Let the Little Children Come to Jesus: Mark 10:13-16 (PART 1)

(The following is part one in a three part series by board member Rev. Matthew Black) (Part 2) (Part 3)

“Higher than every painter, higher than every sculptor and than all artists do I regard him who is skilled in the art of forming the soul of children.” –- St. John Chrysostom (349-407)


What a joy and what a great responsibility it is to have children. For some this is a difficult topic because you would love to have children but are not able to have any. Regardless of the trials we are going through, we were all once children.


USA Birth Rate is Plummeting

Families in our society today are having less and less children. The number of married couples with children has seen a steep decline and more people are living alone.

In 2012, the United States plummeted to a birthrate of 1.88 children per household. That is not far away from China, with their one child policy, and they have 1.66 children per household.

I was born in 1974, the youngest of eight brothers and sisters. There were over a hundred kids on my block growing up in Oak Forest, Illinois.  The average household on our block was 5 or 6 kids. Today, the average is less than 2 kids per home.

According to a recent article in Forbes’ magazine, written by Lee Kuan Yew, former prime minister of Singapore, he writes about the falling US fertility rate:

“The education of US women and their ability to be high-income earners have altered social behavior and led to marriages later in life. But when women put off having children until their mid-30s, they have fewer children.”

Another article written a few months ago in the Washington Post:

“The [US] birth rate has fallen below what demographers call the “replacement rate,” usually around 2.1 births per woman, needed to keep a country’s population from falling, [and from the culture]. “If you want to see what happens to a country once it hurls itself off the demographic cliff, look at Japan…Last year, for the first time, the Japanese bought more adult diapers than diapers for babies, and more than half the country was categorized as “depopulated marginal land.”

Increasing Unfriendly Attitude Toward Children

There is an increasing unfriendly attitude towards children in the world. Couples want to have what one journalist called “trophy children.”

Moms want to have children, but they don’t want to do the work of being a mom. And let’s face it, children are tons and tons of work! They take great selflessness.

I. Some people have the wrong ideas about children, “The disciples rebuked [the parents]” vs. 13.

Disciples Rebuked Parents

Mark 10:13, “People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them.”

Jesus had a very busy day. He had healed many. He was teaching thousands. The disciples thought Jesus was far too important to deal with children.

The parents were bringing their dear children to Jesus. But His disciples were trying to keep the children away. They thought Jesus was just far too busy to tend to little children.

As best we can gather, fathers and mothers, and perhaps older children, were bringing young children, many of whom were babies (for that is how Luke describes them in his parallel account, 18:15), to Jesus for his blessing. [1] It was a very ancient tradition in Israel to have rabbis bless the children, even little infants.

Don’t Discount the Children because they are Young

Do not discount the children because they are young. It’s more CRUCIAL that you reach them now BECAUSE THEY ARE YOUNG. If you do not point them to Christ, you may lose them to the world. How many of you wish you would have heard the Gospel as a child, but you didn’t and you ended up wasting precious years of your life?

An Ignorant Rebuke

The disciples rebuke came because of ignorance regarding the children’s need. If they had been sick or deranged or demon possessed, the apostles would not only have allowed them to come, they would have brought them to the Lord Jesus and helped them along the way. What they did not see, was that they were in far greater need of the Savior because they were coming to the Son of God simply as children who were in sin—they looked fine on the inside, but these children were in need of the Savior’s grace. That my friend is the condition of every boy and girl in this church today who has not been converted through the regenerating grace of God the Holy Spirit. They are sinners, lost, under the wrath of God. If they have not been brought to a knowledge of Jesus Christ.

21st Century Busyness and Child Neglect

We as parents can sometimes be so busy providing for our family, we have the tendency to neglect what is most important for our family, specifically, bringing our children to Jesus Christ. It is important to work, it is important to serve the local church, but we must never sacrifice our family’s spiritual need to come to Jesus on the altar of 21st century busyness.

Today we have a thousand ways of technology to supposedly save time, but if we are not careful, we will waste our time, and our family, specifically our children will get the leftovers, which isn’t much.

Parents Often Have the Wrong Priorities

We as parents often have the wrong priorities. It is good to have a solid work ethic for our children, but we can be busy about the wrong things. We can be so blinded to our children’s spiritual needs that we neglect our children. Consider,

  • What good is a good education if they lose their soul?
  • What good is a great job and a ton of money if they live in hell for eternity?

We must realize that by training our children now for Christ, we are training future men and women! Jesus’ disciples were shockingly REBUKING the parents from bringing their children to Jesus.

The Greatest Mission Field 

O how we need to bring our children to Jesus! How we need to see them come to know the Lord! The greatest mission field in all the world is right here before us! Children—they must be taught what it is to come to the Lord at a young age! Let the children come to Jesus!

Faithfulness in the Church, But Lose Your Children

You may be faithful in the work of the church, but that does NOT mean your children will come to Christ. You must personally invest the Gospel in them. Years ago, the attitude was, if you take care of God’s church, God will take care of your family. This was especially the case among preachers of the Gospel, and many families were lost. But this was also the case in many families at the time, and it is still the case today.

What Excites You? Holy Ambition…

What is it that excites you? It is good to have holy, God-centered ambition. But some men are more excited about their golf game or a new account at work than spending time with their own children. It is good to have zeal and ambition. But put your zeal and ambition in the right place. Do you weep for your children’s souls? They are daily coming closer to their appointment with God. This day with your children will never be repeated. Cherish the moment. There will be a time very soon when you will not have this great influence over them. Your children will soon be gone. Reach them while you still have influence with them. You may say, I will wait until they understand more to teach them. You are making a mistake! Don’t turn your children away from Jesus!

[1] Hughes, R. K. (1989). Mark: Jesus, servant and savior (Vol. 2, p. 56). Westchester, IL: Crossway Books.

(watch for Part 2 in this series as we consider Jesus’ love for children)