Jesus And The Little Children

James Boyd

Mark 10:13-16, “And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”

Every reader of the biographies of Christ has noted the love and compassion Jesus had and demonstrated toward little children. It is obvious from this passage His exceptional interest in them. People were showing their respect for Jesus by bringing their children to Him for Him to bless and even to touch. Jesus has also shown great interest in children by teaching their parents to properly train them in the ways of God, love them, protect and provide for them. We do well to teach our children“Jesus loves the little children of the world,” and to teach them to love Jesus in return.

A Comparison

But while we can admire the beautiful sentiment of the love of Jesus for children, we do not want to overlook the fact that children were more to Jesus than gentle, adorable creatures to be loved and protected. In this passage, they were His chief parable and comparison with those who make up the kingdom of God. “Of such” is the kingdom of God. The American Standard Version says, “for to such belonqeth the kingdom,” and that people are “to be as [like, JWB] a little child.” According to Jesus, a well-conditioned child illustrates better than anything else the distinctive features of Christian character that should belong to those in the kingdom.

Unfortunately, many well-meaning religious people have misused this passage to teach that children are lost and have tried to justify “infant baptism.” They abuse parallel passages in Matthew 18:3; 19:13; Luke 18:15. There is nothing remotely found in these passages to teach that children are lost or the practice of “infant baptism.” Baptism is for those who have sinned, and who can hear the Word of God, believe it, repent of their sins and confess their faith in Christ as the Son of God To baptize an infant implies that the infant is lost. But the truth of the matter is that Jesus used the child to illustrate the nature of the saved.

If a child were born totally depraved, doomed and damned as some teach, why would Christ desire that those in the kingdom be like them? If a child is lost, why should we want to be as they are? What benefit is it for a lost person to be as a lost person?

Not “Infant Baptism”

Furthermore, those who practice “infant baptism” do not baptize, but sprinkle water upon a child, without his consent or understanding. There is a difference between baptism and sprinkling. Baptism is an immersion, a burial, plunging beneath. Sprinkling is one of man's substitute measures to replace and displace what God has commanded. “Infant baptism” is not of divine origin but comes from the doctrines of men, and is an offshoot of the Calvinistic doctrine that a child is born in sin, guilty of inherited guilt of sin, totally depraved and doomed. Jesus teaches that this is not true by saying the kingdom of heaven is like children.

According to Roman Catholic history and theology, where “infant baptism” originated, it was not practiced for nearly three hundred years after the Lord's church was established on Pentecost in Jerusalem after the resurrection of Christ. The apostles, through whom the will of God through Christ was revealed, had been dead nearly a century before that practice was utilized.


Children are not saved because they never have been lost. To be lost one must have sinned. Sin is a transgression of God's law (First John 3:4) .The child has violated no divine law. The child is safe until he reaches an age of understanding capacity and becomes accountable before God for his actions. Until then they are innocent and guiltless.

The confusion that exists among denominationalists regarding "infant baptism" is seen in the fact that some teach infants are “baptized” because they are sinful while others teach we should "baptize" infants because they are saved. Some Protestant churches have rewritten their disciplines that have first said one thing then say just the opposite. There is no Biblical authority for such doctrines and practices.

Jesus points to children as an example like He pointed to the lily of the field, to sheep, the mustard seed, leaven and other things. He said the kingdom is “like” these things. They possess similar characteristics. The word “suffer” or permit was His reply to His disciples who rebuked those who were bringing their children to Him to bless them, love them, and pray over them. The presence of these examples of the character of those in the kingdom did not disturb or frustrate our Lord. He is most concerned that parents bring their children to Him. But this is not done by some kind of religious rite and man-made ceremony, but by teaching them His truth that the child may learn to walk after Christ. They are brought to Christ by parents teaching them and bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).


What are some of the characteristics of children possessed by those in the kingdom? First, the child was born, entering a new life. So it is with the redeemed. They have been regenerated, “born again.” “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”(John 3:3) .The old ways of sin are put to death (Ephesians 4:22-24). Citizens in God's kingdom take on a new manner of life, new goals, and new loyalties. As the child is born into his physical family, those in the kingdom are born into God's spiritual family.

The child is one of confidence, faith, unwavering trust rather than suspicion and skepticism. A child will generally believe whatever those in whom he places confidence will tell him, without questioning. The readiness to accept whatever God says is the attitude of a Christian that is childlike. He takes God's Word without doubt. God said, and that settles it; he believes it. What he can understand, he studies to understand. What he cannot understand, he accepts anyway because God has spoken.

The child is unconscious of pride, self-righteousness and self-sufficiency. Therefore, the child is teachable and can be led. A true Christian will be humble and teachable also. He will allow himself to be guided by God's Word, led by the Spirit through the Word. He recognizes his inability to live successfully standing alone, and is content to keep hold of the hand of the Savior, His Shepherd, as he goes through life step by step. A Christians' dependence on the Lord is comparable to the dependence a child has on his parents, often carried, often led, not thinking himself capable of charting his own course without guidance.

First Corinthians 14:20, “Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be yechildren, but in understanding be men.” There is a difference between being childish and childlike. Paul admonishes the Christian to be mature in understanding. This is an exhortation to spiritual growth. But in such things as malice, be like children.

How are children when it comes to malice? They so quickly lay aside guile, hypocrisy and envy. They are quick to forget injury and hurt feelings. Children playing together can have a falling out that seems so serious but before you can turn around are happily playing together again. They do not carry grudges or harbor animosity in their hearts, even toward those who may offend them from time to time. Grudge holding seems to be beyond their capacity. How fine it would be if more adults could develop this childlike quality!

An Essential

The importance of being like children cannot be overemphasized. Jesus said, Matthew 18:3, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.  ”We see how Jesus made a childlike disposition an essential in being saved. How does one overemphasize the importance of salvation?

Often we might consider growth and reaching maturity as going from childish ways toward the ways of an adult. But in some respects, real maturity is going from the evil ways often found in adult behavior back to the wholesome and admirable qualities of a child.

Let us not miss the divine message of Christ. Mark 10: 14,15, “But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily, I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”

Once there was a small boy who could play the piano rather well for his age. He was asked by one of his schoolteachers to play in the school assembly one morning. She said, “Can you play a song for us this morning?" He responded, “I can, but I won't.”

Some This Way

Do you realize that this is the way some people are acting toward obeying the gospel? This little boy was not demonstrating an attitude that we ought to have toward the invitation of Christ. Many “can” be saved, but the “won't” because they refuse to obey.

We plead that no reader of these words will reject the salvation God offers because they are too set in their own ways to follow Him. If you believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, and will repent of your sins, then confess that faith and obey Him in baptism for the remission of sins, and God will add you to His church, which is the body and company of the redeemed.