Jesus was very busy with many important things. His followers thought He was too busy to bless little children. But Jesus told them they were wrong.
Jesus was about 30 years old when He became a full-time teacher. He and His followers walked all over the Holy Land teaching people about God. He told people about the good news (the gospel) of the Kingdom of God. He healed people of sicknesses and got rid of demons. He answered questions, and He trained His followers.
Every day, many people wanted to talk to Him and get His help. Sometimes He was too busy even to get something to eat (Mark 3:20).
So it’s probably not surprising that His followers tried to protect Him. They thought He was too busy to add anything else.
When some of His listeners brought little children to Jesus, His followers stopped them. They may have figured that the babies wouldn’t even remember seeing Jesus. How could small children be as important as all the other things Jesus had to do?
So Jesus’ followers rebuked the adults. They told them they were wrong for trying to waste Jesus’ time.
But what did Jesus say?
Jesus saw what His followers were doing, and He wasn’t happy about it. He said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14).
Jesus took time to teach His followers why He considered little children important. He even explained that His followers needed to become more like little children. He will only give His Kingdom to people who are like little children in trusting and depending on God.
This wasn’t the only time Jesus Christ used children as a good example. Another time Jesus called a little child to Him to help answer a question. His followers asked who would be greatest in the Kingdom. Jesus used the little child as an example of being humble. We don’t usually think of a small child as being full of pride. We don’t think of innocent children as putting others down to make themselves feel more important.
Jesus said, “Whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me” (Matthew 18:4-5).
Being like a little child means not getting a big head. It means not boasting or thinking we are most important. It means to remember how much greater God is than we are.
What did Jesus do?
So now let’s get back to the little children who were being brought to Jesus. The adults knew that He was an important Man. They knew Jesus was close to God. They wanted Him to pray for God’s blessing for their little ones.
So Jesus “took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them” (Mark 10:16).
Jesus loved the children as much as He loved the adults who came to hear His teaching. He made time to hold and pray for the children. He asked for God’s blessing for them.
Following Jesus’ example today
Some churches today follow this example Jesus set. Each year they have a blessing of the new babies and other little children who haven’t been blessed in previous years.
The ministers pray for God to bless and protect the children. They ask God to bless the parents to teach their children the right way. They pray for the children to learn to obey God’s laws because doing this will bring them blessings.
By this ceremony, the whole church sees the importance of caring for and loving the children. And the adults are reminded to become like little children too.
The Church of God, a Worldwide Association, which sponsors this website, has the blessing of the little children ceremony every year. It usually is done on the second Sabbath after the Feast of Tabernacles.
Every year we remember that Jesus loves and makes time for little children. And He wants us to care for and make time for little children too.
Suggestions for discussion
Here are some questions to consider or discuss as a family:
- Why did the followers of Jesus think children weren’t as important?
- Why was Jesus angry with them for trying to send the children away?
- What blessings do little children need from God?
- What ways should we be like little children?
For more stories of the Bible, see the articles in this section: “Bible Stories: The Purpose Behind the Stories.”