“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” - Luke 18:17
In Jesus’ day, receiving a blessing by a rabbi was a big deal. It was customary for rabbis to impart a blessing, a barakah, on children—and that sometimes included a prophetic message about the child’s future.
No wonder these parents flocked to Jesus. Receiving his blessing would be a great gift—and he might even speak of the child’s future. Would he reveal who might become a rabbi? Or a leader of the people? Or who would enjoy the blessing of long life?
The disciples saw these parents crowding around Jesus, and they weren’t too happy. After all, Jesus was way too busy to take time for children!
But Jesus didn’t want his kingdom fenced in like a private club. As the disciples tried to block the parents and children from him, Jesus called the children toward him with open arms. The Master wanted them near, and he gave them the greatest blessing of all, saying, “The kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
The disciples needed to learn that, rather than being self-imposed gatekeepers of the kingdom, they were to invite people freely, recognizing that all who come to the Lord with the trusting dependency of a child may receive God’s abundant blessings.