Sabbath, July 20, 2013
“Jesus was ever a lover of children. He accepted their childish sympathy and their open, unaffected love. The grateful praise from their pure lips was music in His ears, and refreshed His spirit when oppressed by contact with crafty and hypocritical men. Wherever the Saviour went, the benignity of His countenance, and His gentle, kindly manner won the love and confidence of children.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 511.
Consideration of children
1. How were the children’s shouting and singing hosannas in the temple regarded by the priests and scribes? Do the Scriptures agree with this evaluation of praise to the Saviour?
Matthew 21:15, 16 And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were sore displeased, And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?
Psalm 8:2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.
“When Jesus drew near to Jerusalem attended by the rejoicing multitudes that, with shouts of triumph and the waving of palm branches, heralded Him as the Son of David, the jealous Pharisees called upon Him to silence them; but Jesus answered that all this was in fulfillment of prophecy, and if these should hold their peace, the very stones would cry out. The people, intimidated by the threats of the priests and rulers, ceased their joyful proclamation as they entered the gates of Jerusalem; but the children in the temple courts afterward took up the refrain, and, waving their branches of palm, they cried: ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ Matthew 21:8-16. When the Pharisees, sorely displeased, said unto Him, ‘Hearest Thou what these say?’ Jesus answered, ‘Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise’? As God wrought through children at the time of Christ’s first advent, so He wrought through them in giving the message of His second advent. God’s word must be fulfilled, that the proclamation of the Saviour’s coming should be given to all peoples, tongues, and nations.” –The Great Controversy, pp. 367, 368.
Jesus’ appreciation of children
2. What comparison did Jesus give when the disciples were arguing over which of them should be the greatest? Differing widely from the scribes and disciples, how did He value the little children?
Mark 9:33-37 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.
“Those who possess the spirit of Christ will have no ambition to occupy a position above their brethren. It is those who are small in their own eyes who will be accounted great in the sight of God. ‘And He took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when He had taken him in His arms, He said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of such children in My name, receiveth Me: and whosoever shall receive Me, receiveth not Me, but Him that sent Me’ (verses 36, 37).” –The Sanctified Life, pp. 55, 56.
“It is still true that children are the most susceptible to the teachings of the gospel; their hearts are open to divine influences, and strong to retain the lessons received. The little children may be Christians, having an experience in accordance with their years. They need to be educated in spiritual things, and parents should give them every advantage, that they may form characters after the similitude of the character of Christ.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 515.
3. What did Jesus pray to His Father concerning the sincerity and willingness of children? According to the Spirit of prophecy, what did He see in the children who were brought to Him to receive His blessing?
Matthew 11:25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
“The beauty and preciousness of truth, which are undiscerned by the worldly-wise, are constantly unfolding to those who have a trusting, childlike desire to know and to do the will of God. We discern the truth by becoming, ourselves, partakers of the divine nature.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 26, 27.
“In the children who were brought in contact with Him, Jesus saw the men and women who should be heirs of His grace and subjects of His kingdom, and some of whom would become martyrs for His sake. He knew that these children would listen to Him and accept Him as their Redeemer far more readily than would grown-up people, many of whom were the worldly-wise and hardhearted. In His teaching He came down to their level. He, the Majesty of heaven, did not disdain to answer their questions, and simplify His important lessons to meet their childish understanding. He planted in their minds the seeds of truth, which in after years would spring up, and bear fruit unto eternal life.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 512, 515.
The mothers’ wish for their children
4. Having appreciated their contact with the Lord, what noble desire did some mothers have for their children? Are we today constantly presenting our children at the altar of the Lord in prayer for Him to guide and bless them?
Luke 18:15, first part And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them.
Matthew 19:13, first part Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray.
“Among the Jews it was customary for children to be brought to some rabbi, that he might lay his hands upon them in blessing….” –The Desire of Ages, p. 511.
“In the days of Christ mothers brought their children to Him, that He might lay His hands upon them in blessing. By this act they showed their faith in Jesus and the intense anxiety of their hearts for the present and future welfare of the little ones committed to their care.” –The Adventist Home, p. 273.
“Let mothers come to Jesus with their perplexities. They will find grace sufficient to aid them in the management of their children. The gates are open for every mother who would lay her burdens at the Saviour’s feet. He who said, ‘Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not,’ still invites the mothers to lead up their little ones to be blessed by Him. Even the babe in its mother’s arms may dwell as under the shadow of the Almighty through the faith of the praying mother. John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit from his birth. If we will live in communion with God, we too may expect the divine Spirit to mold our little ones, even from their earliest moments.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 511, 512.
Need of Christian sensitivity
5. Was Jesus pleased with the way the disciples treated the children? How is it with us today? Are we through our words and actions bringing the children and youth to Jesus, or are we pushing them away?
Matthew 19:13, last part … And the disciples rebuked them.
Luke 18:15 And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them.
Mark 10:14, first part … But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased.
“… But the Saviour’s disciples thought His work too important to be interrupted in this way. When the mothers came to Him with their little ones, the disciples looked on them with disfavor. They thought these children too young to be benefited by a visit to Jesus, and concluded that He would be displeased at their presence. But it was the disciples with whom He was displeased. The Saviour understood the care and burden of the mothers who were see king to train their children according to the word of God. He had heard their prayers. He Himself had drawn them into His presence.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 511.
Special attention for the children and youth
6. How willing was Jesus to give His attention to the children, considering them as potential candidates for heaven? In what manner should we receive the kingdom of God?
Matthew 19:14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
Mark 10:15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
“One mother with her child had left her home to find Jesus. On the way she told a neighbor her errand, and the neighbor wanted to have Jesus bless her children. Thus several mothers came together, with their little ones. Some of the children had passed beyond the years of infancy to childhood and youth. When the mothers made known their desire, Jesus heard with sympathy the timid, tearful request. But He waited to see how the disciples would treat them. When He saw them send the mothers away, thin king to do Him a favor, He showed them their error, saying, ‘Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God….
“When Jesus told the disciples not to forbid the children to come to Him, He was spea king to His followers in all ages–to officers of the church, to ministers, helpers, and all Christians. Jesus is drawing the children, and He bids us, Suffer them to come; as if He would say, They will come if you do not hinder them.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 511, 512, 517.
7. What was Jesus very pleased to do, and with what tenderness? Following the Saviour’s example, how much time, attention, and love should we devote to the children and youth in the family and in the church, especially in our difficult time?
Matthew 19:15 And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.
Mark 10:16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.
Isaiah 8:18 Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.
“He took the children in His arms, He laid His hands upon them, and gave them the blessing for which they came.
“The mothers were comforted. They returned to their homes strengthened and blessed by the words of Christ. They were encouraged to take up their burden with new cheerfulness, and to work hopefully for their children. The mothers of today are to receive His words with the same faith. Christ is as verily a personal Saviour today as when He lived a man among men. He is as verily the helper of mothers today as when He gathered the little ones to His arms in Judea. The children of our hearths are as much the purchase of His blood as were the children of long ago.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 512.
“Fathers and mothers should look upon their children as younger members of the Lord’s family, committed to them to educate for heaven. The lessons that we ourselves learn from Christ we should give to our children, as the young minds can receive them, little by little opening to them the beauty of the principles of heaven. Thus the Christian home becomes a school, where the parents serve as underteachers, while Christ Himself is the chief instructor.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 515.