"More, more; do it again!" I can just hear the children say it as they
gather in close to Jesus.


 

Then they brought little children to Jesus, that He might touch
them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them.

But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to
them, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them;
for of such is the kingdom of God.

"Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom
of God as a little child will by no means enter it."

And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and
blessed them.

                                                                         Mark 10:13-16 NKJV


                                         Bless My Child

It's hard to generalize about children. In some societies youngsters are
privileged and people spend a lot of money on them. In other places of
the world children come last on the list of priorities and have little or
nothing to show for themselves. Children may be victims of violence
and abuse. Or spend their days begging and going through garbage
dumps. Many children are latch-key and spend much time behind locked
doors. Our kids may be rude and demanding, happy and cooperative,
fearful and shy. But one thing you can count on, children love to play,
laugh, and have fun. And when you befriend a child, you have made a
good buddy. Their little hearts are very forgiving.

Did children pester their parents to bring them to see Jesus? Or were
they infants carried in the arms of the adults who cared for them? Either
way, the disciples were slow to get it and thought there must be
something more important to do. Usually grown-ups came to Jesus in
distress and asking for comfort and healing; these children were not sick.
Or people came to sit quietly and listen to Jesus' words; these boys and
girls were not like that either. Neither were they sour and disgruntled,
nitpicking or pretentious, nor angry and bitter about life. These children
were a different and unfamiliar breed so the disciples turned them away.
Until Jesus overrode their rebukes and welcomed the little ones. Actually
he elevated them right into God's kingdom.

You can picture the small fries approaching Jesus as he smiled and
encouraged them to come. Some running, others barely inching their
way. Still others peering out from behind mom's skirt. There are many
words to describe this scene. Excitement, joyful anticipation, happiness,
laughter, grins, the delightful touching, jumping up and down, everyone
talking at once, hugs, kisses, greeting Jesus like he was their best friend.
Little children are so trusting.

How much better this scene than the previous ones where adults were
so full of trouble and woe. Contrast this idyllic picture of Jesus with the
children to his encounters with the hostile Pharisees or with his reluctant
disciples. These children didn't need anything in particular, they had no
questions nor criticisms. They just came to get close and have their
own special time in the spotlight of Jesus' attention.

Jesus thought he had died and gone to heaven! Which brings us to the
point he made. Unless we adults become like these "little nobodies"
we will never enter that kingdom. He said the kingdom of God is
something we receive. That's a passive mode. With happy faces, tender
hearts, and hands wide open; trusting, believing, loving, happy simply to
be with Jesus, willing to do whatever our Lord wants. We gain entrance
to God's kingdom in similar fashion.

Jesus took the children in his arms, laid his hands on them and blessed
them. The Hebrew word for bless is barak and one literal translation of
that word is, "The Lord stoop down to you and take you in his arms."
That's the perfect image for this text.

Did the touch of Jesus build up the immune system? Or make these
children wise or brave? More kind and helpful, or whatever else the
parents valued? Did it create a shield of safety and protection around
their young lives? Or give the whole family peace of mind and hope for
the future? If precedence is any indication, all these and more would be
allotted to them according to the faith of the petitioner. Faith changes
the way we think, and how we think influences everything else.

No matter how young our children are or how old and grown up they
have become, parents still seek the blessing of Jesus just like those
folks so long ago. Jesus, bless my child! Keep all our children pure and
bright. There are so many tempting pitfalls, may their tears be few and
there always be a hand to help them get back on their feet again when
they fall. Please light the way toward the pathways of honor and
faithfulness. They know what is right; inspire them to lead in doing good
and not follow the flow. Not bent on selfish pursuits, but always aware of
the concerns of others and seeking to respect and protect the dignity
of all. Help them notice every day something good and worthwhile and
so greet the sunrise with enthusiasm, grateful for the opportunity to be
alive. Heavenly Father, stoop down every day and hold each one in
your kind and ever loving arms. Amen.

 

Use the following questions and exercises for small groups, journaling,
further study or reflection.

 

Icebreaker:  What were you doing the last time you were having so much 
                        fun you wanted to do it again?

 

"Pony boy, pony boy, won't you be my pony boy? Don't say 'no'; here we go,
all across the plains. Giddy up, giddy up, giddy up, whooooooa! Pony Boy."
It's a song I learned on my mother's knee. Once through was never enough.
We did it again and again. To this day put an infant on my lap, and this 
refrain wells up within me automatically. I sing it over and over as we gallop
across some imaginary landscape.
            Name some things you associate with the years of early childhood?

 

In what ways do you think life was different for the children Jesus blessed
in this text than it is for our children today?
            Are there any advantages they might have had?

 

When reading this passage, it's tempting to romanticize childhood. But
raising a child is very difficult and so complex it does "take a village."
            Talk about your role as--the child, the parent or part of the village?
            Describe how, and how well, your community of faith assists
                        parents in raising their children?

 

When our children are having fun, they keep coming back for more. They want
to do it again! When you observe that "Do it again!" attitude, let it inspire you
to have that same kind of persistence when it comes to seeking God's blessing
on their lives. Develop the rhythm of "Do it again!" and "Bless my child!"

 

The blessing of God on your child (or on anyone's life)--
            What does it mean?
            What does it look like and where do we see the hand of blessing today?

 

When Jesus looked at the little children and said of such is the kingdom
of God, what characteristic in these children was Jesus commending?
            What is it that adults must learn from children in order to enter
                      God's kingdom?
Who are the least important people in our society and do we have time for them?

 

Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem and the cross, but on the way he
stopped to hug the children and bless them. Giving and receiving go hand
in hand. What do you suppose Jesus received from the children that day?

 

Write your own prayer for the special child/children in your life.

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