The four gospels contain the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. Within three years of organized ministry before his death and resurrection, he preached many sermons and shared many parables. In a time before podcasts and YouTube, his teachings have endured due to the life-changing paradigm with which he spoke.
In all that he taught, Jesus also deemed it necessary to speak about children. He spoke of children five times in his recorded ministry. Understanding what Christ thinks about children is paramount to our understanding. In a time and culture in which children are viewed as burdens instead of blessings, we need to reset how we think, speak, and act concerning our children.
In the five recorded words of Jesus regarding children, two of the evidences are Matt. 7:11 and Luke 11:13 where children are not the primary subject. The other three are:
- Children’s faith is the prototype of saving faith (Matt. 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17). While the disciples wanted to rid the children from Jesus, he welcomed them to him. Just like today, many people want to escort the children away from their parents and away from spiritual formation, but Jesus challenges the paradigm. Not only does he encourage them to come to him, he lifts up their example for adults to follow! Jesus exhorted for no one to hinder children from coming to him. If you want to experience the kingdom of God, you must receive it like a child – with wonder, joy, and belief.
- Children are examples of greatness (Matt. 18:1-5; Mark 9:33-37; Luke 9:46-48). Jesus’ disciples couldn’t escape from Kingdom competition. They wanted Jesus to tell them who the greatest was in the Kingdom of God (and hopefully, they were somewhere on that list). With emerging preachers and aspiring missionaries listening in for a response, Jesus passed by the mature men and brought a young child to the center of the conversation. If you want to be great, you must become small. Greatness isn’t achieved by talent and accolades, but it is received from the heart in awe.
- Children are to be protected at all costs (Matt. 18:6; Mark 9:42; Luke 17:1-2). Jesus understood that temptations would come for children, but he warned that you had better not be the source of their temptations (Lk. 17:1). In fact, Jesus shocked his crowds when he said that it would be better for someone to drown a horrible death than it would be to cause a child to fall into temptation and live a life of sin (Lk. 17:2). You think he takes it seriously? If this seems extreme to you, maybe you don’t understand how much Jesus loves children. If parents and mentors allow sin to run rampant in our lives in front of young undiscerning eyes, not only may they pick up our habits, but they might sin more because they are lacking certain abilities to fight against the temptation. In Jesus’ estimation, which is worse: an adult to die before committing grievous sin or a child to watch that and continue that sin pattern for the rest of the child’s life? He knows the answer to that question immediately. To give a child the best chance at success, they need to be protected at all costs.
I know what our culture says about children, but this is what Jesus says about children. I’m with him.