Do Not Hinder the Little Children

Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom belongs to such as these.” (NIV) This verse in Matthew 19:13 & 14 struck me one day. I thought to myself, How interesting that we only apply this verse to literal children. We imagine in a very literal sense that Jesus is just talking about children here. For the kingdom belongs to such as these.

But what if we suppose for a moment that there was more to what Jesus was saying? Many of His parables and teachings were figurative with hidden meanings so that only some would understand. Many alluded to the fact that we must become like children or have childlike faith in order to inherit the kingdom of God. So why do we so easily forget that we are children of God?

As adults we come to rely on our own strength, wisdom, and means so very often. That kind of independence is even lauded in popular media and entertainment. We encourage children to behave properly, stop being so silly, and learn responsibility. We may not want to admit it, but we may see them as less important in the grand scheme of our day. Mommy needs to finish this project. Daddy needs some quiet time. But this is not God’s way. God values children. Jesus called the children to come to Him.

Just as everything Jesus said and did was topsy-turvy with the world’s view, in heaven’s economy, children are very important. For the kingdom belongs to such as these. That’s pretty important.

There is something that God wants you to remember about yourself today—God sees you as His child, and He values you. He loves you. He wants you to come to Him. He wants to heal your hurts. He is saying to those around us, “Let my children come to me, and do not stop them!” Or perhaps He is reminding you to not hinder another one of His children from coming to Him.

In the Message version of these verses (13-15), we can glean so much more from these verses.

One day the children were brought to Jesus in hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over them.

The operative words here are “in hope.” We don’t want to steal others’ hope or discourage them from coming to get help or healing from Jesus. We need to encourage other to seek Him first.

The disciples shooed them off.

How many times do we minimize our pain or our needs and put them off until later? How often do we see ourselves, “little ones,” as less important? How often do we neglect to lead someone to Jesus because it doesn’t fit our time schedule or plan?

But Jesus intervened…

Hallelujah that He intervenes for us! Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father and intercedes for us (Romans 8:34).

“Let the children alone; don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s Kingdom is made up of people like these.”

It is interesting and worthy to note that He didn’t say children but people here. We are all His children, no matter our age or station in life. People that honor children as Jesus did are authentic, real, honest people of God’s kingdom here on earth.

After laying hands on them, he left. 

Notice that He did not move onto the next thing until he met the need of the child. We need to take a lesson from Jesus in how He manages children, or us, as followers of Christ.

Above all else, if you can’t support yourself or others in coming to Jesus, then LET THEM ALONE, as Jesus directed the disciples in Matthew 19:14. In fact, in Matthew 18:6, Jesus warns us,  

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (NIV)

That is pretty strong language, so just let that soak in for a moment. It would be better to drown in the sea with a millstone around your neck, with no hope of escaping, than to cause a little one (one of His children) to stumble. Yikes! This makes me want to be a little more careful of how I treat God’s children (and myself).

Let’s go back now to that first verse where the disciples were shooing the children away from Jesus, and Jesus countered by saying that they should let the children come to Him. According to the verse in Matthew 18:6, it would be better for the disciples to have done nothing at all than to hinder the children from coming to Jesus.

Let the little children come to me.

But let’s not be too quick to dump on the disciples. They got a bad rap many times because they were learning the way of Jesus as He taught it to them. So let’s look at things from their perspective for a moment. When they were shooing the children away from Jesus, they thought they were honoring their Lord. They thought they were keeping Him from being bothered during His important ministry time.

They thought they were serving Him.

Ouch. Does that hit a little close to home? Is it possible that at times we shoo others away from coming to the Lord while we think we are serving Him? Is it possible that we minimize the importance of the “least of these” when we should be laying down a red carpet for them to run to Jesus for healing and deliverance? Is it possible that we push away our own problems because we think that serving Him means that we have to handle everything on our own?

Let the little children come to me.

We need to be willing to bring ourselves and others to Jesus. We need to be more aware, more gentle, more compassionate. We need to be like children who will grab the hand of another and run to Jesus with abandon! It is only through His touch that we can be healed, delivered, and brought to wholeness. And it is only through becoming like little children that we can inherit the kingdom of heaven.

Let us come to Him like little children, for the kingdom belongs to such as these. Matthew 19:14

Reflection Questions:

  1. Do you allow yourself, or will you allow yourself, to come to Jesus with the hope that He will touch your life? Do you come to Him with a need and ask that He “lay His hands” on the request or need?
  2. Do you discourage others or yourself from going to Jesus by “shooing” away your problem or minimizing, ignoring, or thinking it’s unimportant? What specific things are you discouraging in yourself or others when coming to Jesus?
  3. Will you let Jesus “intervene” on your behalf or another’s?
  4. Ask God to lay His hands on you, to meet your need, and for the need to simply be touched by God alone.
  5. How can you allow yourself to be a child with Jesus, so that you can be one of the people in God’s kingdom?

Meditate on these Scriptures and how they apply to you and others.