Day 15 | The Little Ones

Matthew 19:13-15

Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.

Words: Ann Farrell Read: 0 - 5 mins Published: 15 March 2024

If I were facing my own imminent death, how would I spend my time? What would I do, and with whom? Where would I go? What would I talk about?


Knowing of his looming death, Jesus spends time with his family, friends and relative strangers. In the time remaining, Jesus talks, walks (except later when he takes a donkey ride), eats, drinks, prays, heals and sleeps, then does it all over again the next day. Most importantly, he talks with his Father.


In today’s passage, Jesus moves from a technical conversation with his disciples to another technical conversation with a rich young man. Sandwiched between these two conversations is his decisive welcome of children who are brought by others for him to pray and lay hands on. News of Jesus, the power of his presence, reaches ordinary people. On this particular day, families make the wise decision to bring their young children for his blessing.


The disciples are indignant at his welcome of children, their interest more in the technical conversations with important people than with children, let alone ‘little’ children. Jesus gives an emphatic, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven’.


How is it that the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these? What is it about children or these particular children to which Jesus refers? Is it the dependence of children on an adult or an older child for their everyday needs? Is it the trust of children in another? Is it the capacity of children to take a tumble, pick themselves up, then tumble again? Whatever caricature of children that comes to mind, we know that the kingdom of heaven belongs to the humble of heart, those who know their need for and dependence on Jesus.


Even as Jesus faces his own death (not for usual human reasons but as a sacrifice for us), he has time for children and urges us to be like them. As we prepare ourselves for Easter, walking with Jesus the way of the cross, we are wise to be child-like in our trust in Jesus, accepting his warm welcome and committing to walk hand-in-hand, step-by-step with Jesus.


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