In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.
Read Mark 9: 33-37; 10: 13-16
Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red, yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world. If you’ve begun to sing along, that’s a good sign. When Jesus was confronting the pride of his disciples, who were arguing with one another about who is the greatest, he chose a child to make his point. It wasn’t enough for him to merely say, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, the servant of all.”
He put an exclamation point on his teaching when he took a little child and had him stand in their midst. Then, he welcomed the child with outstretched arms of love and said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me.” How they treated a child was an indicator to Jesus as to whether or not there was pride in their heart. Those who stooped down to the child’s level and extended their arms were lovers, in contrast to any who would stand prideful, aloof or dismissive.
When people were bringing their little children to Jesus for him to touch them, the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this he was indignant and said to them, ”Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these…anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will not enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them, and blessed them. A powerful expression of his love.
It’s delightful to consider the many ways Jesus comes alongside children. He used a child’s loaves and fish to feed five thousand hungry souls. He healed children, cast demons out of them, and even raised a little girl from the dead. Children joined the chorus “Hosanna to the Son of David!” as their expression of love and gratitude for Jesus. He had a magnetic heart toward children and he encouraged his disciples to live likewise, welcoming little children, receiving and blessing them in his and their presence.
What is your attitude toward the children in your sphere of influence? Are they a nuisance, disturbance, or hindrance to your life? Or, are they welcomed with outstretched arms of love into your midst, embraced as an especially beloved child of God? Are they treated as a gift, like sugar for your soul? Are you able to join Jesus in inviting them into your life to challenge your pride and open up your heart to the kingdom of heaven here and now? Consider prayerfully how God might be tapping you on the shoulder of your heart in regard to your relationship with your own children.
Behold Jesus among the little children and rejoice; believe once more how welcoming children is kingdom living; belong to those who love all God’s children; become childlike in your heart today.