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Blessing the Children

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Imagine (K-1)Year 2Unit 6 (Imagine Jesus Caring for Us)Session 5

Blessing the Children

Jesus cares for children.
Faith Nurture Goals
  • Tell what Jesus said and did when the children came to him.
  • Sense that children are as important to Jesus as adults are.
  • Express love for Jesus.
Memory Challenge

Leader Reflection

Preparing to Tell God's Story

While this story seems so warm and inviting, it's important to hear what's beneath the surface: the radical teaching about the kingdom of God.

For example, why would the disciples want to turn away people bringing their little children to Jesus? Were they being mean? Didn't they like children? The fact is that the disciples were merely acting out an attitude toward children that was common in their time and place.

These days children are often the center of attention, and we think their chatter and mannerisms are cute. Whole chains of stores are devoted to items for babies and small children. We dress them in the latest designer clothes and may shell out hundreds for a new stroller.

In Jesus' day things were quite different. One rabbi, a contemporary of Jesus, said, "Morning sleep, mid-day wine, chattering with children, and lingering in the places of the common people destroy a man." Children were considered nonentities, people who weren't all that important until they grew up and proved themselves. So it's understandable that the disciples might want to help Jesus out by shooing away the kids so he could get on with the important business of the kingdom.

Jesus was indignant, telling the disciples, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." In fact, he said, "whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it."

What was he talking about? Our natural assumption is that Jesus was speaking of some childlike qualities to which we, as adults, can aspire---innocence, fresh-faced playfulness, honesty, vulnerability, faith, trust, and ready displays of affection. Yes, we ought to be more like that, we wistfully think to ourselves; we ought to be more childlike. Who can resist a toddler's play or a baby's smile?

That said, we also know that kids aren't perfect. They can be manipulative, demanding, obstinate, and self-centered. You have to keep an eye on them all the time, not just because of the danger they can pose to themselves, but also because of their potential to harm other children or pets.

This story isn't about when and how children will grow up to be like us, but about when and how we'll become like them. In this story Jesus doesn't hold children before us as examples of the beginning of the Christian life, but as examples of its goal.

Jesus doesn't want us to become like children in every way, but he does want us to identify with a child's sense of helplessness. The one universal quality of all children is that they come into the world utterly unable to make their own way in life. They have to be held and fed and cleaned and watched over constantly.

That's exactly the childlike quality Jesus points to when he calls us to become like little children. It's the humility of knowing we can't do anything for ourselves to make us worthy of God's kingdom. Becoming like a child means that we're to trust completely in our heavenly Father to provide what we need, both for this life and for the next. Notice how Jesus puts it: it isn't about achieving but about receiving the kingdom of God. Becoming like a child means being ready to receive God's love and salvation as a gift of grace.

And then Jesus did what we all love to do with little ones---he held them and hugged them. And that too is a picture of the kingdom: being cradled and embraced in the arms of our doting Father.

  • Try to picture the scene in your mind—including the looks on the participants’ faces and the tone of their words.

  • Who do you most identify with in this story?

  • In what ways do you exhibit the positive qualities of childlikeness in your life and faith, and in what ways could you do better?

  • One aspect of the story you don’t want to overlook is all the hugging that comes at the end. Jesus loved being around children, and your kids should know that.


Step 1 Gathering for God's Story

  • body smart
  • music smart
  • picture smart
  • word smart
Faith Modeling

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