“Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the children come and do not hinder them from coming to Me, for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.’ After laying His hands on them, He departed from there.” Matthew 19:13-15
“’Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.’ And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.” Mark 10:13-16
“And they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He would touch them.” Luke 18:15-17
Two common denominators of each of these three passages are the disciples’ open rebuke of The Children and The Master’s personal touch upon them. The rebuke of the children revealed the content of the hearts of the disciples. The rebuke of the disciples revealed the character of Jesus. Follow Him!
The disciples appointed themselves, as gatekeepers to The Kingdom. Rather than positioning themselves, as welcome mats to The Master, they were elbowing each other, and little ones, for a seat on the front row of the class. Jesus took them to school, and put them back in their place and in the back of the class.
“Do not hinder them from coming to Me.”
One of the first songs learned in Sunday School, “Jesus Loves the Little Children,” clearly reveals the heart of Jesus, and the world-wide embrace of His global compassion. As the contemporary church gathers for worship in the face of Christian children around the world being beheaded, buried alive, kidnapped and sold into slavery by Islamist extremists, it is crucial to pray for God’s protection of His little ones.
“Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
A ministry-hardened heart is a poor substitute for the compassion of Jesus. Sometimes the bright stage lights of an active, public ministry have a way of evaporating from the heart of a servant of God the one thing that is most important in ministry, the heart of The Father.
Note to self: Prayer protects your heart from being consumed by ministry, and fills you with The Father’s love for people. Do it!
The disciples fell into the trap of people who exert themselves to do more for Jesus, but end up expressing less of Him. The disciples may have had good intentions, but they missed God’s best. Jesus set the record straight and revealed the love of The Father for The Children.
The prayer life of Jesus reveals that He prayed to The Father, until His heart was filled with The Father’s will and His way to carry out ministry. The disciples were proud of their position on Team Jesus. In their own eyes, they had been promoted as men in authority. They were so close, and yet so far away.
Prayer warriors are not marked by a passion for being in authority, but they exhibit a persistent humility to be under authority. This is where the power of prayer is found by the humble, and when it is released through them it mystifies the proud.
Prideful people hold onto a position of authority, only to find out they have no power. Prayerful people yield to The Father’s authority and discover The Spirit’s life-changing, life-giving power, in the name of The Son.
Prayer softens the heart of the humble to embrace those whom The Father loves. Prayerlessness hardens a heart until there is very little flow of The Father’s love, to those who need it the most. The Spirit’s mark on the heart of a disciple of Jesus is the love of The Father. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Prayerless people may hold themselves in high regard, and even hold what appear to be exalted positions in The Kingdom. Yet, their private prayerlessness only invites the public rebuke of The Father. Jesus rebuked the disciples for grasping for a position close to Him, without taking hold of the hands of little children and bringing them to Him.
“Setting the woods on fire” in ministry sometimes brings the head, but sheds very little light. One thing is certain. Prayerless people are blinded by the smoke of man-made ministry, and breathe their own toxic ether, until they can’t see “the least of these” or say an encouraging word to anyone.
There is no record of the words Jesus prayed over The Children. There are only the repeated images of His tenderness towards them. My personal favorite is…
“And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.” Mark 10:13-16
There is something about this gentle picture that warms my heart, and tenderizes it to the point of surrendering my will to The Father’s will. It encourages me to put on my ministry eyes, and become more aware of opportunities to minister, to pray for those and to bless those who have no power to advance my own personal agenda or return the favor to me.
This morning I find myself called to pray for parents who have such a powerful responsibility to bring their children to Jesus. The little children, recorded in these Scripture passages, who received a touch and a blessing from Jesus were brought to Him by parents and guardians who wished the best for their little ones during the worst of times. Wise parents still do. Pray for them, and encourage them. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!