"And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him, And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great." Luke 9:47,48 (KJV)
It seems like every time I catch the news these days, I am hearing of some heart-wrenching, incomprehensible story of a child who was abused, neglected, or worse. To be honest, I can't stand to listen to or read the whole story. I have to put it aside and move on...to something more pleasant.
Because I just can't understand how this can be happening.
It is just too difficult for my mind to take in the fact that a mother could suffocate her own child. That a father could lock his three year old in a closet for days with no food or water. That a grandmother could beat a baby...until it could no longer breathe.
I find it beyond belief that anyone could harm a child....any child. Let alone, a child that is one's own.
Children are so precious. They are sent to us....sweet and innocent....priceless gifts from a loving Heavenly Father who entrusts us...to protect, defend, and love them.
To do them harm, to take away their innocence, to crush their spirit, to make them feel they have no worth...is beyond my scope of understanding.
Jesus had a special place in His heart for children. In Mark 10:13, 14, there were some parents who brought their children to Him, because they wanted Him to touch them. They wanted Him to give them a special blessing. What parent wouldn't? Can you imagine having lived when Jesus walked the earth? I would have gone to any lengths necessary to take my child to Him for Him to touch...to hold. What a privilege that would be, no matter how far one would have to travel or what they had to go through to get there!
When Jesus' disciples saw what the parents were doing, they rebuked them for it. They didn't want Jesus being bothered with what they evidently considered such unimportant business. Verse 14 says, "But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God."
Such a tender, loving Lord we have! One Who cares about all of us...no matter how old or young, how rich or poor, how famous or ordinary, or how highly-regarded or downtrodden by society. Out of every, single person who ever wanted to be near Him, to touch Him, to have Him touch them....there was never one of them who left His presence disappointed or feeling less than special.
I can just picture Him looking at His disciples with the saddest of expressions, as He watched them turning the parents away. I imagine there was something deep in His heart that rose up to defend the defenseless who wanted to come near Him. Jesus always did take up for the under-privileged. He always looked out for the ones who could not look out for themselves. He was a Champion of the underdog.
As He scolded His disciples and told them to allow the children to come unto Him, I can just visualize the little ones running past His disciples and up to Him, jumping onto His lap, as He spoke soft and gentle welcoming words...His arms outstretched. I believe it filled His heart with unspeakable joy to wrap His arms around them and hold them close.
Jesus realized that children are invaluable. He knew that they are treasures sent from the heart of God...to bless, to uplift, to brighten our lives....in more ways than we could ever count.
When all is dark, they have a special way of pointing us back to the light. Their laughter is contagious and comforting and heartwarming. Their simple way of viewing complicated problems teaches invaluable lessons in how we should never sweat the small stuff.
If only we could view things through their eyes. If only we could realize how they feel. Weren't we not all children at one time? Remember how quickly and deeply an adult could hurt our feelings back then? No doubt, we are all wearing emotional scars today from thoughtless words and actions inflicted on us by adults who really didn't care....who thought children didn't have feelings or worse, that their feelings didn't matter.
Perhaps the wounds went deeper than average. Maybe things were stolen from some of us that were irreplaceable. All the more reason for us to love, protect, and defend the children God has entrusted to our safekeeping. After all, the wounds we inflict today, will one day be the scars they look at...and remember....and have to deal with...when they are all grown up.
They are so trusting. So dependent. Their view of the world so pure and untainted and unclouded by evil.
If only we could remember what that feels like....what that looks like.
Maybe we would be kinder to them, listen closer to them, speak softer to them, hold tighter to them.
Maybe they wouldn't get on our nerves so often.
Maybe we would value our time with them more, and not wish it away or long for the day when they are grown...and away...and out of our way...and not so dependent and so demanding of our time and cramping our style so much.
Speaking about today's passage of Scripture in Luke 9, Ruth Bell Graham had this to say, "When Jesus put the little child in the midst of His disciples, He did not tell the little child to become like His disciples, He told the disciples to become like the little child."
If only all of the Mamas and Daddies in this world would take the time to look at life through their little, innocent eyes....then treat them the way they expect and deserve to be treated.
After all, Jesus was a very busy man. Yet, He took all the time they needed.
If only, we would do the same.