They Did Jehovah’s Will
Jesus Spent Time With Children
JESUS’ three-and-a-half-year ministry was nearing its end. Soon he would enter Jerusalem and suffer an agonizing death. He was well aware of what lay ahead, for he had told his disciples: “The Son of man is to be delivered into men’s hands, and they will kill him.”—Mark 9:31.
Surely, Jesus would want to make the most of each day, each hour, each moment that remained. His disciples still needed attention. Jesus saw that they still needed strong admonition regarding the need for humility and the ever-present danger of stumbling. (Mark 9:35-37, 42-48) They also needed instruction on marriage, divorce, and singleness. (Matthew 19:3-12) Knowing that he was soon to die, Jesus no doubt spoke to his disciples concisely and with a sense of urgency. Time was of the essence—a fact that made what Jesus did next all the more remarkable.
Jesus Welcomes Children
The Bible account says: “People began bringing him young children for him to touch these.” When the disciples saw this, they immediately voiced their disapproval. Perhaps they reasoned that Jesus was too important or too busy to be concerned with children. Imagine the disciples’ surprise, then, when Jesus became indignant with them! “Let the young children come to me,” he told them. “Do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to suchlike ones.” Then Jesus added: “Truly I say to you, Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a young child will by no means enter into it.”—Mark 10:13-15.
Jesus saw admirable qualities in children. They are usually inquisitive and trustful. They will accept their parents’ words and even defend them before other children. Their receptive, teachable nature is worthy of imitation by all who wish to enter God’s Kingdom. As Jesus said, “the kingdom of God belongs to suchlike ones.”—Compare Matthew 18:1-5.
But Jesus was not simply using these children for the sake of an illustration. The account makes it clear that Jesus genuinely loved being around them. Mark reports that Jesus “took the children into his arms and began blessing them, laying his hands upon them.” (Mark 10:16) Only Mark’s account includes the warm detail that Jesus “took the children into his arms.”* Jesus thus exceeded the expectations of the adults, who brought these children to Jesus that he might merely “touch” them.
What was the significance of Jesus’ “laying his hands” upon the children? There is no suggestion here of a religious ceremony, such as a baptism. While on some occasions, the laying on of hands meant the bestowing of an appointment, on others it merely signified the giving of a blessing. (Genesis 48:14; Acts 6:6) So Jesus may simply have been bestowing a blessing on the children.
In any event, Mark uses a stronger word for “blessing” (ka·teu·lo·geʹo), denoting intensive force. This suggests that Jesus blessed the children fervently, tenderly, and warmly. Clearly, he did not view children as a time-consuming burden.
Lesson for Us
Jesus’ manner of dealing with both children and adults was neither intimidating nor demeaning. “He must have smiled easily and laughed joyously,” says one reference work. No wonder people of all ages felt at ease around him. Reflecting on Jesus’ example, we can ask ourselves, ‘Do others find me approachable?’ ‘Do I seem too busy to be bothered with the activities and concerns of others?’ Cultivating a sincere interest in people will move us to give of ourselves, as did Jesus. Others will sense our genuine interest and will be drawn to us.—Proverbs 11:25.
As Mark’s account shows, Jesus enjoyed being with children. Evidently, he took time to observe them at play, for he referred to their games in one of his illustrations. (Matthew 11:16-19) Perhaps some of the children that Jesus blessed were too young to appreciate who he was and what he taught. But this did not cause him to feel that he was wasting his time. He spent time with children because he loved them. Likely, many of the children whom Jesus encountered during his ministry were later moved to respond to his love by becoming his disciples.
If Jesus spent time with children during the crucial last weeks of his life, surely we can make time for them in our busy schedule. We should be particularly mindful of those who have special needs, such as the fatherless boys and girls. Really, all children thrive when they are given attention, and it is Jehovah’s desire that we give them all the love and help that we can.—Psalm 10:14.
One translation says that Jesus “embraced them.” Another says that he “took them up in the crook of his arm.”