Jesus and the Children—and Us
When Isaiah says that God “exalts himself to show mercy to you” (Isaiah 30:18, RSV), he teaches us that one mark of great, self-sufficient poise is the willingness to get down low with the weak. This is probably why Jesus was so taken with children. It is also why Christians care about children in church and children on the streets.
According to some estimates, there are probably one hundred million children who live on the streets of our cities around the world. Some estimates say that by the year 2000 half the global population will be children under the age of fifteen, and perhaps two billion of them will live in extreme poverty or be at risk. The United Nations estimates that one million children enter the trade of child prostitution each year.
The impulse to move toward this need rather than away from it is a sign that the Spirit of Jesus is at work in us. Consider a few of his relations with children.
1. Jesus was a child. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given and the government will be upon his shoulders” (Isaiah 9:6, KJV).
2. Jesus took children in his arms and blessed them. “‘Let the children come to me, do not hinder them’“ And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands upon them” (Mark 10:14, 16, RSV).
3. Jesus healed a child of a foreign woman. “‘O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed instantly” (Matthew 15:28, RSV).
4. Jesus cast a demon out of a child. “And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly” (Matthew 17:18, RSV).
5. Jesus raised a child from the dead. “Taking her by the hand he said to her, ‘Talitha cumi,’ which means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, arise.’ And immediately the girl got up” (Mark 5:41-42, RSV).
6. Jesus used a child’s loaves and fish to feed five thousand people. “‘There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are they among so many!’ Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down’“ (John 6:9-10, RSV).
7. Jesus said you should become like a child. “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3-4, RSV).
8. When Jesus came, children cried, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” “The chief priests saw the children crying out in the temple, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’“ (Matthew 21:15, RSV).
9. Jesus predicted the terrible days when fathers would give their children up to death. “And brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child” (Mark 13:12, RSV).
10. Jesus said that if you receive a child in his name, you receive him and the one who sent him.
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me” (Mark 9:37, RSV).
The question is not whether caring for children is easy and safe, or whether they are responsive and thankful, or whether caring is depleting. The question is whether Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and whether we can say with the apostle Paul, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
(Excerpted from A Godward Life by John Piper, pp. 65-67.)