Jesus said things about little children that were honestly revolutionary for his time! What do they mean for us today?
Recently I was fascinated to learn that attitudes toward children were very different in Jesus’ time than in our own.
While today children are seen as valuable and important, the prevailing attitude during the 1st century was that children were “worthless” and “like chattel.”
Knowing how people of the time saw children really put some of Jesus’ comments in a new light.
Of course, Jesus was well known for his love of children. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke all include stories of him blessing children, telling his disciples not to keep the children away from him, and saying that his followers must become like children.
These comments certainly seem much more revolutionary when you know that children were the lowest rung of society in his time! It really makes me wonder how the people around him reacted when he said that children would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus’ love for children is a beautiful thing to see in his Catholic Church and its people.
What could this love for children look like for us?
Maybe it means saying something welcoming and kind to the family with the active toddler at Mass.
It could mean setting up a meal train for a family who just welcomed a new baby.
Maybe it means holding a friend’s baby so she can eat her meal with two hands.
It might mean babysitting her older children so she can take a nap and rest with her newborn.
Maybe it means offering Mass or a Rosary for children everywhere.
However you do it, we can all do our part to follow Jesus’ command to love and welcome the little children in our midst.
Here are five Bible verses that reveal what Jesus taught about children, and what we can learn from each one.
The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like children
Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:13-14)
Whoever welcomes a child welcomes Christ
Taking a child he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it he said to them, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.” (Mark 9:36-37)
The greatest in heaven are humble like children
At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.” (Matthew 18:1-5)
Little children’s angels always look upon the face of God
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.” (Matthew 18:10)
The least and most childlike among us is the greatest in God’s eyes
An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest. Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.” (Luke 9:46-48)