Three of the four gospels. Not quite a four-chair turn but John had words for the world.
Maybe take a moment to lay three Bibles down in front of you. It's a fascinating study to consider how each gospel emphasizes different parts of the story. Then to think, there's always more. More to the story. Take a moment to consider, you are a mother or a father in ancient Jerusalem. A famous teacher is visiting your town. You've heard he heals people with his words and his touch. My father never spoke a blessing of this kind over me. It wasn't his way. He didn't have the wisdom of God to pass along to his children. Jewish children would know of this blessing though. They heard a fatherly blessing every sabbath in their home. They had memorized the priestly blessing we find in Numbers. Quite possibly, they knew of the blessings their fathers and their fathers and their fathers had received as the patriarchs lay on their deathbed. Considering all of this, I'd be first in line with my child!
It was never Jesus's intention to leave the children out. The red-letter words are similar in each Gospel rendering.
Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. (Matthew 19:14)
Don't miss this. Matthew's Verse 15 tell us, he placed his hands on them. Mark mentions the fact that this, this, is why the people were bringing the little children to Jesus in the first place. He tells us, Jesus didn't just lay his hand on the head of each child, as a priest does to me when I go forward for a blessing. He embraces them. Much like he did days, weeks, prior.
He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, 'Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me.' (Mark 9:36-37 Message)
The Bible, my friends, is overflowing with spoken blessing. Add eye contact and the intimate touch of being drawn into the arms of the son of God, and we have a powerful image of the peace and love he wants his children, of all ages, to feel in his presence. We should long for this blessing over our lives and the lives of our children.
Our main story appears to be right after Jesus had been teaching about divorce. As families we can miss the mark. Focus on the children. Bring the children to Jesus. The best way we can do this is to go to him first for ourselves. Let your children see you turning to Jesus.
Why did the disciples rebuke them? Could it be they were captivated by being in the presence of a celebrity? They had grandiose ideas of all Jesus had come to do. Perhaps they were even a bit puffed up, because they had been chosen to participate? Plain and simple, they saw the children as distractions.
Jesus did not. Heed these words:
Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. (Luke 18:17)
We're dependent on our Father; for a blessing (let no one stand in our way), for the things of this earth (he is our provider), and for the future kingdom (all we must do is receive it). Our children aren't distractions. We aren't distractions. Jesus is tender with us still, ever drawing us to himself. There we find the kingdom of God, for now and all eternity.