13 Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.
Jesus drew attention to little children as a sequel to His presentation on divorce. Children suffer most from divorce.
Then [right after the presentation on divorce] little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them.
Parents brought children to Jesus so that He might “put His hands on them and pray.” It was common for Jews to bring children to a rabbi for a blessing. Luke indicates that these children were “infants” (Lu 18:15). Jesus was using children here as an illustration of believers who make up the kingdom (cf. 18:1-4).
The disciples evidently thought that it was a trivial thing for parents to bring children to Jesus, so they prohibited the parents from doing this.
But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus made sure that His disciplines knew that children have a place in the kingdom (not necessarily heaven). The “kingdom of heaven” is the orb of God’s rule through Christ. Note that Jesus said “of such,” not “of these.” Jesus did not refer only to the children before Him but to children of any age.
The Lord did not look on children as a burden but as a blessing. Mark indicates that Jesus was indignant that the disciples forbade children from coming to Him (10:14).
And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.
Jesus blessed the children as He blesses all who have a sense of dependence upon God.
The attitude of dependence on God is fundamental to the kingdom.
It is always a difficult issue to present the gospel to small children. They want to please their parents and do not think independently. All of us know adults who made valid decisions as a child. The famous preacher W. A. Criswell made a decision to go into ministry as a child. With that said, we need to take great care in presenting the gospel to children to make sure they make the decision for themselves.