12 Things Jesus Teaches Us about Children
- Karen Whiting Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2022 9 Feb
The most familiar passage about Jesus and children is when he scolded his disciples for blocking children from coming forward. He said, "Let the children come to me." It's found in Matthew 19:13-15 and Luke 18:15-17. His words reflect his love and welcoming attitude toward children. There are more lessons Jesus teaches and shows about children from that passage and more.
1. Jesus Sees the Purity and Honesty in Children
In Matthew 18:1-5 and Mark 9:33-37, Jesus shares that we must become like children to enter the kingdom of heaven. The disciples asked who would be most significant in heaven, but Jesus used it to share a larger lesson. He explained that we must change or turn from our sins and be humble as a child.
Humble means not thinking more highly of oneself but realizing who you really are and knowing your limits. Jesus saw honesty, purity, and wholesomeness in the child next to him. There was no pretension or hypocrisy. He saw that that child near him had faith. Jesus welcomes children to heaven with a wide-open door and points to them as examples to follow. They belong and are accepted into heaven. We should accept them too and welcome them into our lives.
2. Children are Innocent but Corruptible
Read Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42, and Luke 17:2. We hear these words repeated in three gospels because it is so important to God. Jesus speaks about children who trust in him. Jesus recognizes the innocent and complete trust of children. He warns people not to cause them to sin because he understands that children also trust adults and follow them.
Children can be easily influenced; they can be corrupted by the people responsible for nurturing them. Sin is serious, and Jesus cares about children's souls. His stern warning to the adults reveals his passion for protecting the innocence of little ones. He wants adults to be honest with children and lead them in godly ways. His warning reminds us to be responsible as adults when interacting with children.
3. Christ's Cares about Children's Wellbeing
Jesus cares more than about the souls of children. When Jairus, the Canaanite women, and mothers came to Jesus, he responded. In Mark 5:21-24, 35-43 and Luke 8:41-42, 49-56, Jairus, the synagogue leader, fell at Jesus' feet and cried for help for his daughter who lay dying at home. A messenger arrived to say the little girl had died. Jesus replied not to be afraid because she was merely asleep. People laughed when Jesus arrived at the house because they believed the girl was dead and Jesus still came. Jesus took her hand and beckoned her to get up. She stood, and Jesus told the people to feed her.
He also healed the daughter of the Canaanite woman when she persisted in asking for help in Matthew 15:21-28. He also healed other children and included children when he fed thousands with bread and fish. He cares about their health and nutrition. Jesus approves of parents coming to him on behalf of their children. We should lift them up in prayer daily.
4. Jesus Modeled Obedience for Children
Jesus taught by example as well as through words. In Luke 2:5, Jesus obeys his parents. This comes after they lost him on a trip to Jerusalem and found him in the temple. His choice worried his parents. He asked, "Did you not know that I had to be in My Father's house?" After that, he was obedient to them. His example of obedience is one for children to follow. They must be accountable.
Jesus also used a story to teach about obedience. Jesus shared a tale of two sons in Matthew 21:28-31 where one greed to obey but did not, and the other said no to his father but regretted that and obeyed. Such stories help children understand what Jesus wants us to do. It also helps parents to be observant of a child's actions.
5. Jesus Values Children
In Matthew 18:10, 14, Jesus tells people not to look down on children. Jesus shares a secret: little children all have angels. God cares so much for little ones that he assigns them angels. The angels maintain such a close relationship with God that they see God's face. Children are that precious to God.
He reminds people how valuable each child is with a parable about seeking out one lost sheep and states, "My Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish." He calls the lost little ones like lost lambs. Jesus is the Word, the Logos, and the source of truth in scriptures in the Old Testament too. That includes Psalm 127:3, where children are called an inheritance or gift from God, who only gives the best. To Jesus, every child remains important. We are blessed when God gives us children. We need to treasure children.
6. Christ's Cares about Older Children
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In Luke 15:11-32, Jesus shows the concern for older children who have gone astray. One son leaves home with his inheritance, not caring what happens to his family. He squanders the money. The father watches every day until his son returns. Then he celebrates the return and hugs his son. He forgives his boy. The other son becomes angry at his father for throwing the party. The Father gently reminds that son that all that's left is his, and they should celebrate his son who has repented. Jesus watches all the children, prepared to forgive.
The passage began with the story of a lost lamb for Jesus is called the Good Shepherd, and through that analogy, Jesus wants to guide and protect each one.
7. Christ's Wants to Protect Children
In Matthew 23:37, Jesus said he longed to gather us as a mother gathers her chicks under her wings. Quotes like this from Jesus are for all of us, including all children. He wants to protect us and assure us of his presence. A hen shelters her chicks and stands ready to sacrifice herself for them. Jesus died for all, including children. He wants little ones to know he will protect them.
The mother hen makes a particular clucking noise when there's danger. Those who listen run quickly. Jesus said that his sheep know his voice, and he wants children to learn to hear his voice and go to him for protection. He assures them. When we teach children to pray, we also teach them to listen for the voice of Jesus.
8. Jesus Shows that Family Matters
In responding to Jairus and the Canaanite woman and their faith, Jesus affirms that family matters. This is also seen in a few other miracles. In Luke 7:11-17, Jesus brings a widow's son back to life. He understands that life without a son would leave her destitute. He must believe her son is a good and supportive son who took care of her. He restored the family.
In John 4:46-54, Jesus heals a sick son, and in Mark 9:14-48, Jesus heals a possessed son. Each time he responded to a concerned parent. He healed both sons, even the one who questioned if Jesus could do it. That father responded to Jesus's rebuke with a cry to help his unbelief. After years of his son being possessed, he had trouble trusting Jesus, but he wanted to believe. In healing children, Jesus brought peace and joy to parents. Jesus affirms the goodness of supporting one another within a family and persevering in trust.
9. Christ Shows that Parents Have an Important Role
Jesus began his ministry when his mother asked him to help at a wedding where they ran out of wine. He performed his first miracle when he changed water into wine. At first, he said it was not his time. His mother's faith in him and his abilities and his honoring her also provided an important lesson for parents and children. Jesus did what she asked. Children need to honor their parents, and parents should help their children grow up and help others.
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Parental guidelines go back to Deuteronomy 6:4-9. Parents are to pass on and teach their faith to their children. They are to talk about God at all times and even decorate the home with God's commandments. They need to weave faith into the dailiness of life. This way, a child grows in grace, health, and knowledge as Jesus did in Luke 2:52. Mary reminds us not to hold back our children but encourage them to minister to others. Sometimes parents, like a mother eagle, need to push the child out of the nest so they can soar. Proverbs 22:6 encourages parents to raise or train children in the way each should go, a reminder to observe and foster each one's uniqueness.
10. Jesus Affirms Children's Praises
In Matthew 21:15-16, the chief priests and teachers complained to Jesus about the children shouting praises. They wanted to stop people from following Jesus. The children yelled, "Hosanna to the Son of David." Jesus quoted from Psalm 8:2 for his response that God called forth praise from the lips of children and infants. Jesus would not stop children from their worship and joyful singing.
It's good to teach our children to praise God with songs and dance. Matthew 11:25-27 Jesus speaks to God the Father with praise that he hid truths from the wise and revealed the truths to children. Here it's children who recognize Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus knows children respond to God with great enthusiasm.
11. Jesus Approves of Children's Gifts
In front of a huge crowd, the disciples brought a boy to Jesus in John 6:5-13. The child gave his sack lunch to Jesus to help feed the hungry people. He never put down the child or considered the gift too small. Jesus accepted the small gift and multiplied it.
Jesus gave thanks over the loaves and fish and knew it was all he needed. A little gift fed thousands of people. Jesus appreciated the boy's offering and trusted the Father to bless it. It's not the giver's age or value of a gift, but the giver's heart condition and generous spirit that matters most.
12. Jesus Showers Affection on Children
In Matthew 19:13-15, and Luke 18:15-17, Jesus does more than invite the children to come to him. The same account in Mark 10:16 shows that Jesus embraced the children. He shows affection with his hugs. This happened right after the disciples rejected them and held them back. Jesus understands rejection and how children who have been rejected need to feel loved and accepted. He shows love and kindness through his tender care and touch. He blessed them too. His example showed the disciples and followers that he wants us to be kind and loving to children.
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Karen Whiting is a mom, author, international speaker, writing coach, and former television host who loves sharing ideas to strengthen families. She has written Growing a Mother’s Heart: Devotions of Faith, Hope, and Love from Mothers Past, Present, and Future. Check out her new book 52 Weekly Devotions for Family Prayer that includes a different way to pray each week plus stories and activities to explore questions children ask about prayer She loves adventure including camel riding, scuba diving, treetop courses, and white water rafting plus time at home crafting and baking.