Jesus and the Children - Bible Story Summary

Simple Faith Is Key to the Bible Story of Jesus and the Children

Jesus and Children
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Scripture Reference

Matthew 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17.

Jesus and the Children - Story Summary

Jesus Christ and his apostles had left Capernaum and crossed into the region of Judea, on his final journey toward Jerusalem. In a village, people began bringing their little children to Jesus to have him bless them or pray for them. However, the disciples rebuked the parents, telling them not to bother Jesus.

Jesus became indignant. He told his followers:

"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." (Luke 18:16-17, NIV)

Then Jesus took the children in his arms and blessed them.

What Can We Learn From the Story of Jesus and the Children?

The accounts of Jesus and the little children in the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are remarkably similar. John does not mention the episode. Luke was the only one who referred to the children as babies.

As was often the case, Jesus' disciples did not understand. Perhaps they were trying to protect his dignity as a rabbi or felt the Messiah should not be bothered by children. Ironically, the children, in their simple trust and dependence, had a more heavenly attitude than the disciples did. 

Jesus loved children for their innocence. He valued their simple, uncomplicated trust, and absence of pride. He taught that entering heaven is not about great scholarly knowledge, admirable accomplishments, or social status. It only requires faith in God.

Immediately after this lesson, Jesus instructed a rich young man about humility, continuing this theme of childlike acceptance of the gospel. The young man went away sad because he was unable to trust fully in God instead of his wealth.

More Accounts of Jesus and Children

Many times parents brought their children to Jesus to be physically and spiritually healed:

Mark 7:24–30 - Jesus cast out a demon from the Syrophoenician woman's daughter.

Mark 9:14–27 - Jesus healed a boy possessed by an impure spirit. 

Luke 8:40–56 - Jesus raised Jairus' daughter back to life. 

John 4:43–52 - Jesus healed the official's son. 

Question for Reflection

Jesus presented children as a model for the kind of faith adults ought to have. Sometimes we can make our spiritual life more complicated than it should be. We each need to ask, "Do I have the childlike faith to depend on Jesus, and Jesus alone, for entering God's kingdom?"