Luke spends a surprising amount of time in his Gospel telling stories about Jesus and his relationship to children. The reason for this is because in the ancient world, children were not celebrated or romanticized- they were actually deemed disposable and thought to have no intrinsic worth. Jesus’ welcome and embrace of children, though sweet and sentimental for us modern readers, would have been shocking to the ancient Jewish observer. It was yet another layer of the revolution Jesus was bringing into the world-- taking those that society deemed worthless and making them the most worth-full in the Kingdom of God. This speaks so much to our call to be those who see and welcome the most vulnerable and overlooked in our society, whoever they may be.
Jesus also takes it a step further however. Not only does he exhort his followers to welcome children, he also urges us to become like children! Over and against the religious and elite of the society who boast in their performance and moral record, Jesus says that his Kingdom is for those who acknowledge their need and throw themselves on God’s grace. We’ll explore what that might mean for our daily lives.
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46 An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. 47 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. 48 Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”
15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”