The Bible’s View
Jesus Had Time for Children
“SUFFER the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:14, Authorized Version) Many persons may remember this Bible text and use it to show how approachable by children Jesus was. This quality of Jesus, however, is even more remarkable when we are aware of the stress at the particular time when Jesus said those words.
Twice before this time Jesus had told his followers that he would go up to Jerusalem to be betrayed, tried, convicted and put to death. Now three years of his ministry had passed and he was moving toward Jerusalem. He knew his ordeal was only weeks away, for shortly after his encounter with the children he said for the third time: “Here we are, advancing up to Jerusalem, and the Son of man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and will deliver him to men of the nations, and they will make fun of him and will spit upon him and scourge him and kill him.”—Mark 10:33, 34.
Hence, his disciples might well think Jesus was in no mood to be bothered with children: “Now people began bringing him young children for him to touch these; but the disciples reprimanded them.” But Jesus always had time for the needs of other people, even these little children. “At seeing this Jesus was indignant and said to them: ‘Let the young children come to me; do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to suchlike ones.’ And he took the children into his arms and began blessing them, laying his hands upon them.”—Mark 10:13, 14, 16.
A child is dependent on its parents and looks to them for its needs, and is trustful and believing. It accepts its parents’ statements as true and will defend its parents’ words before other children. So will those of the kingdom be toward their heavenly Father.
On one occasion the disciples were arguing among themselves as to which one was the greatest. Jesus perceived their reasonings and said: “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and minister of all.” Then “he took a young child, stood it in their midst and put his arms around it and said to them: ‘Whoever receives one of such young children on the basis of my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives, not me only, but also him that sent me forth.’” (Mark 9:35-37) Those who are truly Jesus’ followers receive children in Jesus’ name, have time for them, make them feel a welcome part of the congregation.
Jesus took time to watch children in their play. He even used their games as an illustration of the contrariness of his generation. “With whom shall I compare this generation?” Jesus asked. “It is like young children sitting in the marketplaces who cry out to their playmates, saying, ‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance; we wailed, but you did not beat yourselves in grief.’” First they wanted to play “weddings,” and then “funerals,” but their playmates were uncooperative and balked at both happy and sad games. So, too, Jesus’ generation found fault with both John the Baptizer and Jesus of Nazareth.—Matt. 11:16-19.
A child was associated with Jesus in one of his most amazing miracles. A great crowd had followed Jesus into a mountainous area, and when the hour was late and the crowd grew hungry Jesus inquired about food. Andrew, the brother of Peter, said: “Here is a little boy that has five barley loaves and two small fishes. But what are these among so many?” Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes until thousands of people, including “women and young children,” were fed and there was food left over. But the point is, the child trusted Jesus and willingly turned over to Him the meager supplies in his possession. Also significant: the child was in the crowd to see and hear Christ Jesus.—John 6:2-14; Matt. 14:14-21.
Some persons think that young children should not be instructed in matters of worship but should wait until they are older and can decide for themselves. Jesus did not hold to this view. Four days before he died, Jesus entered into the temple in Jerusalem and threw out the money changers and those selling sacrificial animals at enormous profits. This ruined the racket of the chief priests and scribes, and they determined to do away with Jesus. But they chose for complaint the fact that children were praising Jesus and hailing him as Messiah. Yet Jesus cited the children’s cries as a fulfillment of Psalm 8:2. The account reads:
“Jesus entered into the temple and threw out all those selling and buying in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. And he said to them: ‘It is written, “My house will be called a house of prayer,” but you are making it a cave of robbers.’ Also, blind and lame persons came up to him in the temple, and he cured them. When the chief priests and the scribes saw the marvelous things he did and the boys that were crying out in the temple and saying: ‘Save, we pray, the Son of David!’ they became indignant and said to him: ‘Do you hear what these are saying?’ Jesus said to them: ‘Yes. Did you never read this, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings you have furnished praise”?’”—Matt. 21:12-16.
It is still pleasing to God and Christ Jesus to hear young children praising God and acknowledging Christ as Jehovah’s king over a new heavens and a new earth where righteousness is to dwell. Doubtless millions of children who have died in the millenniums past will hear the voice of Jesus calling and they will come forth from their graves to live upon a paradise earth. Even now many thousands of children are singing the praises of God and Christ, and have the hope of living through a great tribulation to enter into that paradise.—2 Pet. 3:13; John 5:25-29.
Foreshadowing such a time of resurrection for many children, Jesus when on earth responded to a plea for help from a grieving father. His daughter was ill. As Jesus was en route to heal her, the message came, “Your daughter died! Why bother the teacher any longer?” But Jesus continued on, arrived at the house and dispersed the noisy crowd of mourners who were weeping and wailing, and entered the house. “Taking the hand of the young child, he said to her: ‘Talitha cumi,’ which, translated, means: ‘Maiden, I say to you, Get up!’ And immediately the maiden rose and began walking, for she was twelve years old. And at once they were beside themselves with great ecstasy.”—Mark 5:22-24, 35-42.
So now we, as Jesus did when he was on earth, should have time for children, should make time for them, receive them into our midst and make them feel that they belong with us. And in a righteous new earth, young and old together will feel a great ecstasy.