Suffer The Little Children...
“Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”
When Jesus told the disciples not to forbid the children to come to Him, He was speaking to His followers in all ages—to officers of the church, ministers, helpers, and all Christians. Jesus is drawing the children, and He bids us, “Suffer them to come;” as if He would say, They will come, if you do not hinder them.
When Christ was on earth, the burdened mothers brought their children to Him; they thought that if He would lay His hands upon them, they would have better courage to bring them up as they ought to go. The Savior knew why these mothers came to Him with their little ones, and He sternly rebuked the disciples, who would have kept them away, saying, “Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God.” [Mark 10:14.] Jesus loves the little ones, and He is watching to see how parents are doing their work.
Let not your un-Christlike character misrepresent Jesus. Do not keep the little ones away from Him by your coldness and harshness. Never give them cause to feel that heaven would not be a pleasant place to them if you were there. Do not speak of religion as something that children cannot understand, or act as if they were not expected to accept Christ in their childhood. Do not give them the false impression that the religion of Christ is a religion of gloom, and that in coming to the Savior they must give up all that makes life joyful.
Jesus loved the children. He remembered that He was once a child, and His benevolent countenance won the affections of the little ones. They loved to play around Him, and to stroke that loving face with their innocent hands. When the Hebrew mothers brought their babes to be blessed by the dear Savior the disciples deemed the errand of too little importance to interrupt His teachings. But Jesus read the earnest longing of those mothers’ hearts, and checking His disciples, He said, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto Me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
As the Holy Spirit moves upon the hearts of the children, co-operate with His work. Teach them that the Savior is calling them, that nothing can afford Him greater joy than for them to give themselves to Him in the bloom and freshness of their years.
He who said, “Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not,” still invites mothers to lead their little ones to be blessed by Him. Even the babe in its mother’s arms may dwell as under the shadow of the Almighty through the faith of the praying mother. John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit from his birth. If we will live in communion with God, we too may expect the divine Spirit to mold our little ones, even from their earliest moments.
“Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.” Ecclesiastes 12:1
“I love them that love Me, and those that seek Me early shall find Me.” Proverbs 8:17
Jesus identified Himself with the lowly, the needy, and the afflicted. He took little children in His arms and descended to the level of the young. His large heart of love could comprehend their trials and necessities, and He enjoyed their happiness. His spirit, wearied with the bustle and confusion of the crowded city, tired of association with crafty and hypocritical men, found rest and peace in the society of innocent children. His presence never repulsed them. The Majesty of heaven condescended to answer their questions and simplified His important lessons to meet their childish understanding. He planted in their young, expanding minds the seeds of truth that would spring up and produce a plentiful harvest in their riper years.
He knew that these children would listen to His counsel and accept Him as their Redeemer, while those who were worldly-wise and hardhearted would be less likely to follow Him and find a place in the kingdom of God. These little ones, by coming to Christ and receiving His advice and benediction, had His image and His gracious words stamped upon their plastic minds, never to be effaced. We should learn a lesson from this act of Christ, that the hearts of the young are most susceptible to the teachings of Christianity, easy to influence toward piety and virtue, and strong to retain the impressions received.
“Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” These precious words are to be cherished, not only by every mother, but by every father as well. These words are an encouragement to parents to press their children into His notice, to ask in the name of Christ that the Father may let His blessing rest upon their entire family. Not only are the best beloved to receive particular attention, but also the restless, wayward children, who need careful training and tender guidance.
Tell the dear Savior just what you need. He that said, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not,” will not reject your prayer. But he will send his angels to guard you and protect you from the evil angels, and will make it easy for you to do right. Then it will be much easier than if you should try in your own strength. You may ever feel like this, I have asked God to help me, and he will do it. I will do right in his strength. I will not grieve the dear angels that God has appointed to watch over me. I will never take a course to drive them from me; for if they should leave me I should then have evil angels around me to control my actions, and lead me to do wickedly, and grieve my parents. But we do not believe that good angels will leave you; because we believe you will do right, and encourage their watchful care.
Never correct your child in anger. An exhibition of passion on your part will not cure your child’s evil temper. That is the time of all times when you should act with humility and patience and prayer. Then is the time to kneel down with the children and ask the Lord for pardon. Before you cause your child physical pain, you will, if you are a Christian father or mother, reveal the love you have for your erring little one. As you bow before God with your child you will present before the sympathizing Redeemer His own words, “Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” Mark 10:14. That prayer will bring angels to your side. Your child will not forget these experiences, and the blessing of God will rest upon such instruction, leading him to Christ.
Let mothers come to Jesus with their perplexities. They will find grace sufficient to aid them in the management of their children. The gates are open for every mother who would lay her burdens at the Savior’s feet. He who said, “Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not,” still invites the mothers to lead up their little ones to be blessed by Him. Even the babe in its mother’s arms may dwell as under the shadow of the Almighty through the faith of the praying mother. John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit from his birth. If we will live in communion with God, we too may expect the divine Spirit to mold our little ones, even from their earliest moments.
The mothers that brought their children to Jesus, did well. Let mothers now lead their children to Christ. Let ministers of the gospel take the little children in their arms, and bless them in the name of Jesus. Let words of tenderest love be spoken to the little ones; for Jesus took the lambs of the flock in His arms, and blessed them.