Verse of the Day Devotion Matthew 19:13
“Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them.” – Matthew 19:13
There was a time when some children were brough to Jesus so He could lay His hands on them and pray for them. We see this in our focus verse. This was most likely the parents who brought them to Him. However, the disciples rebuked them for doing this. Now it is important to know that just before this occurred, the Pharisees had come to Jesus and had asked Him about divorce. “And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” Matthew 19:3. Then Jesus counters their argument, essentially rebuffing them. Now a rebuff is essentially a rejection of something said in an abrupt manner. However, when the parents brought the children to Him, He allowed them to go right up to Him and he laid His hands on them and prayed over them.
Now the disciples rebuked the parents for bringing them to Him. However, Jesus said to them, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14. Jesus told them leave the children, and ultimately the parents, alone. “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14. Mark’s version says Jesus was indignant about what they did. This showed that He basically rebuked them, telling them they had no business telling them to go away. And after a time, He went off after laying hands on them. “And after laying His hands on them, He departed from there.” Matthew 19:15.
It is important to remember that children in Jesus’ time were not necessarily regarded as special or particularly endearing, with the exception of their own family. Many cultures today look on children as especially sweet, innocent, and even wise at times. It seems that the Jewish culture in that day did not see children in such optimistic terms. The disciples most likely rebuked those bringing the children to Jesus because they felt bringing children to Jesus was socially improper or possibly they thought the children would bother Jesus. It is likely that their move to hinder the parents from bringing their children to Jesus was motivated not by unkindness but by a desire to respect Jesus’ position as a teacher. But Jesus wanted the children to come to Him, for He told them, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14. I believe He wanted to bless them before He left.
It is wonderful to think of Jesus interacting with children. They are often needy and dependent, and they know almost nothing about this life. They react on emotion rather than reason. Yet Jesus said, “for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14. Jesus’ command to “let the little children come to me” reveals several truths. First, children are as important to Jesus as anyone else, and therefore we must help them be introduced to Jesus as well. The Lord wants to bless children, and He corrected His disciples when they tried to send them away. Parents should be encouraged to bring their children to Jesus at as early an age as possible and teach them His ways. Second, Jesus has regard for the weakest and most vulnerable among us. No matter how compassionate Jesus’ followers are, Jesus Himself is more compassionate. And those who come to Christ must do so in childlike humility, faith, and simplicity. Remember what Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:4-5.
Like children who naturally follow their parents, believers must come to Him in the same basic way. Faith is not about knowing everything or doing everything right. It is about knowing that no matter what happens, our Father will take care of us. That trust in Him, even when life is extremely troubling and sad and makes no sense, is what makes a believer like a child. “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” John 6:37. God loves His children, His people. And we should see Him as a child sees His wonderful parents, as someone who loves us, cares for us, and will always be there at all times.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.