15 Now they were bringing even infants [the Greek would indicate newborns and also preborn – all considered fully human persons to Jesus] to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children [here the Greek indicates both children and infants] come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
Upon the heels of the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in prayer we find this report of people bringing their small children to Jesus to receive the blessing of His presence and His touch. This is a fitting story to follow that parable as the tax collector and the children have an important common characteristic. They are both considered “weak” by the people around them. The tax collector even (rightly) saw himself as the weak one and in need of God’s forgiveness. Once again we are reminded that the Kingdom of God is made up of those who are in need of God – sinners and the child-like. Again, Jesus’ disciples are reminded that the least are the greatest.
By their simplicity, humility, and utter inability to come to Jesus, infants and young children demonstrate the characteristics and posture of those who enter into the kingdom. The kingdom comes to those who are the least among humanity and who have nothing to offer God. Salvation is by his initiative and by his gift.
Just, A. A., Jr. (1997). Luke 9:51–24:53 (p. 689). St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House.
Weakness, humility, and simplicity are considered to be undesirable by most of us. I know that I really don’t want to be described as weak. But I’m wrong to embrace that attitude and it is most certainly born out of pride. I believe we raise our children to be strong, assertive, self-possessed people who can handle the world. And I’m not going to back away from that practice. But – somewhere along the line we also have to embrace (and teach) the fact that in reality we are not strong; we are not able to handle the world. Those attitudes are a façade – at time a helpful façade, but false none the less. When it comes to the Kingdom of God we are weak and needy and that is exactly the way we need to see ourselves. There is no one needier than the human infant. If left alone with no care for them, they will perish in a short amount of time. This is who Jesus holds up as the standard for us to emulate!
Jesus Himself embraced that stance as He is ridiculed and scorned during His Passion. He took on meekness and appeared to be powerless and yet was anything but. He did not become weak but allowed weakness to be His demeanor; this is the very definition of strength. In that weakness, He bore my sins and yours to the cross and in that weakness He won our salvation from sin, death, and the devil. Eternity with Him is mine because He became weak.
“Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God."