Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away.
Understanding And Applying the Text
We have seen Christ receive those given the desire and faith to approach him. Now we see He received those who are not yet old enough to know they need His grace.
Parents brought their children. And Christ received them. He dedicated them to the Father with a blessing.
Parents believed Jesus could pour out the Holy Spirit on the people of God. There is no doubt they wished their children to participate in His grace.
The laying on of hands was an ancient and well-known sign of blessing.
The disciples thought they were serving Christ. They kept the children away. In fact, they were hindering Chris’s mission. They thought of children as unworthy. After all, what has the highest Prophet and the Son of God to do with infants? But they were not to judge for Christ. As mere men, we do not understand holiness. We judge Christ according to our feelings of the flesh. We are unfair judges. We judge based on what appears honorable to us.
From our judgment arise many superstitions. We see what happened with Rome. They believe bring honor to Christ when they bow before a small piece of bread. But it is an abomination to God. And again they do not think it honorable that Christ should perform the office of Advocate for us. They made up countless intercessors. They pray and offer sacrifices to them. Not only do they deprive Christ of the honor of Mediator they worship idols instead. Of course, they claim it is adoration not worship. But that is a distinction without a difference.
Christ received the children into His arms. To exclude children from the grace of redemption is cruel. This passage is a defense against those who deny children the grace baptism offers. Their claim is infants do not understand the mystery it contains. As if that were a reason. Most of the church today does not understand the mystery. Denying this grace on those grounds shows a lack of understanding. Baptism is not something we do. It is something Christ does for us. Baptism is the pledge and figure of the forgiveness of sins and adoption by God. God adopts and washes with the blood of his Son. We should not deny the grace of God to infants. That was the disciples’ error. They thought of infants as unworthy because they could not understand.
The objection, that repentance and newness of life are also denoted by it, is easy to answer. The Spirit of God renews according to the capacity of age. Christ’s laying on of hands was not an empty sign. Christ’s prayers were not wasted air. By embracing them, he showed he recognized them among his flock. They could partake of the spiritual gifts, This is represented by Baptism.
Jesus said the kingdom of heaven was made up of children. We are all children of God. Christ included little children and those who resemble them in the kingdom. Those who allow only those of a particular age baptism exclude those to who Christ said let them come.