Jesus has been in the region of Judea just across the Jordan. While there He has been healing, teaching, and encountered the Pharisees. Today He is asked to bless the children.
Everyone has been coming to Jesus for healing since the beginning of His ministry, but this is the first time we see someone coming simply to receive a blessing from Him. Jewish tradition has a special blessing for children, which is to be given every Friday night. It is called the Shabbos bracha. I wonder if this was what the parents were asking for from Jesus. You can check out the traditional blessing for boys and girls at Aish.com.
Jesus has been dealing with the crowd and the Pharisees for a long time today. He is probably tired and in need of rest. But one last group wants an audience with Him. This is a group of parents and children. I’m imagining there were quite a few of them in this group.
I don’t know why this thought is running through my head, but I can’t seem to get it out. I find it wisest to write when a thought is stuck because it usually leads me somewhere God wanted me to wander anyway. As I sit here thinking about how the children were brought to Jesus, I wonder how the group of parents got their desires known. Did they stand there and shout out to Him? Did they ask one of the disciples to ask Him if He would consent? Did they send a child directly to Jesus?
If they talked to Jesus’ disciples, how did they address them? Did they give them some honorific title or call them by name? Were they “Brother Peter” and “Brother Andrew?” If an honorific title was used, did the disciples feel they had earned it? Did the disciples feel superior to the crowd? Is this why the disciples “rebuked the people” and barred the children from approaching Jesus? Had Jesus’ disciples become less of the common man and more of the elite in their own eyes?
Children were the lowest on the ladder of importance politically religiously and even in the hierarchy of the family. They were of little value when trying to advance an agenda. They were usually dirty and always full of energy. Jesus’ disciples probably thought, “Jesus is too tired. What can children do for Him? They can’t help Him in any way and they will just overtax an already tired Master. There are too many of them and we will never get out of here at this rate.”
Yes, Jesus was probably tired from all that had transpired since He arrived in this region, but He was never too tired to meet the needs of God’s children. They were special to Him. Their innocence melted His heart. I’m sure he knew all their bad days too, but He loved them thoroughly. They were the epitome of what He wanted us to be. Guileless, innocent, open, loving, and full of wonder. This is what the Kingdom of Heaven is made up of. This is the starting point for the new “child of God.” This is what His disciples needed to return to.
A father stands before Peter waiting to ask him a question. Between the two of them stands the father’s two sons; side by side, each standing quietly under their father’s hand on their outer shoulders. Peter looks at the father, then at the sons. He sees no obvious deformities which would have brought this group to Jesus. “What is it you are needing today”, asks Peter. The father replies, “If we could have just a minute of the Teacher’s time, I would like Him to bless my two sons.” Peter looks around him and sees many other parents and their children standing near this father with apparently the same request on their minds.
At first Peter didn’t know what to think of this request. This is not something that has happened before, so he is at first unsure how to deal with this situation. Then Peter thinks about how tired he is and realizes that Jesus must be just as tired. This blessing is something that the parents can do on their own, why take up Jesus time. “I’m sorry, but the Master has no time for children. If you had a need for healing then I’m sure He would accommodate you. Besides, there are too many of you for the Master to conceivably see today. Maybe another time. Please go home and perform your own blessing for your children. After all that is your responsibility, is it not?”
Jesus is just finishing talking with another person who has come to Him for healing when Peter begins addressing the father. Jesus is not angry at Peter for his response, but quickly stops Peter from going any further with his rebuke of the parents. “Peter, stop. Of course I want to bless these children; each and every one of them. Let them come to me. These little ones are God’s children and are always welcome in my presence.” Jesus reaches out His hand and takes the hand of the boy on the father’s left and draws him into his arms. “Welcome little one. I’m so glad you came today.” Jesus places his hand upon the boy’s head and says, “You have such a beautiful heart. You are a young man of fine character. God is very pleased by the way you treat your younger brother. He sees how kind you are to him and how patiently you try to share your knowledge with him. You will grow to be a mighty man of God. I bless you and the Father blesses you also.” Jesus hugs the young boy to Himself, then sends him to his father.
The little boy hurries back to his father, glowing with pride and excitement. “Jesus talked to me like He knew me father! I want to grow up to be just like Him. I want to make Him proud of me.” “You will son”, replies the father, “I truly believe you will.”
The father turns to Peter again, while Jesus is busy with his other son, and says, “Please tell the Teacher how much this means to me and my sons. We will never forget Jesus’ love and kindness.” Peter, blinking away unshed tears, says, “I will tell Him, and I don’t think we will ever understand the depth of His love, but we are very grateful for it too. Please accept my apologies for my earlier rudeness.”
Jesus continues to bless and speak into each of the children’s lives in a personal way that only the one who created them can do. After each child has been blessed and returned to their parents, Jesus leaves the region. He is tired but it’s a very good tired.
Lord Jesus, Your love knows no bounds. You love each and every one of us, warts and all. You loved Your disciples as they struggled to comprehend Your plan. You loved each child present that day and blessed them in a special way. You love us when we think we have earned the right to be superior. You love us when we think we should run the show. You love us even when we feel unlovable.
You demonstrate Your love in so many ways. With the children it was a very special blessing. With the parents, it was a gracious gift to their cherished children. With Your disciples it was a gentle answer and correction. With me it is a stuck thought that won’t go away. Thank You for taking the time to speak Your love into each of our lives in just the right way. Thank You for giving me peace, or at least quieting my heart today. Thank You too for all the questions You put in me to ponder. Not questions of doubt but questions designed to make me look deeper; to stop and think. I pray You never run out of questions to stick in my mind.