Showcasing Children in the Ministry of Jesus

Updated on April 7, 2018
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MsDora, former teacher and Christian counselor presents practical Scriptural principles for joyful everyday living.

Given the compassionate nature of Jesus, it is no surprise that He loved children and validated them in His teachings. In the few instances where the gospel writers reported on His interaction with them, He showcased them either as models of Kingdom attitude, or as essential relations in our development of such attitude.

Jesus and the Children

By Georgy
By Georgy | Source

In the stories cited below, the children became illustrations in His lessons on five major Kingdom characteristics (mentioned in no particular order): humility, giving prayer, inclusion and trust. The story sources are included for the readers's review and the quotations are from the New Living Translation.

(1) Humility

The Child in Focus
The Lesson
Story Source
The disciples . . . asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus called a little child . . . among them.
So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Matthew 18: 1-4

There seemed to be no embarrassment, no awareness of their selfishness as the disciples questioned Jesus about His pick for the top position in His Kingdom. He illustrated His answer by focusing their attention on a child.

“He did not intend to express any opinion about the native moral character of child” according to Barnes Notes on the Bible. He wished for them to observe that “Children are, to a great extent, destitute of ambition, pride, and haughtiness. They are characteristically humble and teachable.” The Pulpit Commentary adds that they are trusting and submissive.

Individuals with such characteristics do not discuss or poll their popularity. They are focused on commitment, not control. They respond to service with obedience and willingness the way the child did when Jesus called.

(2) Giving

The Child in Focus
The Outcome
Story Source
“There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”
Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people.
John 6: 5-13

The Boy Gives His Lunch

Contributed by LUMO Project
Contributed by LUMO Project | Source

Big problem: a hungry multitude and nothing to eat. Jesus could solve it, but he intended to watch it play out (verse 6). He saw an opportunity to teach that everyone, even a child, possesses a gift which can be shared for the benefit of others.

The little boy gave up his lunch of five small loaves and two small fish which Jesus blessed and multiplied. For those who think they have nothing to offer, consider this child who contributed the gift given to him for his personal use. Look how it multiplied to benefit thousands when He gave it up and allowed God to bless it!

“Christ can use children if they are willing” sermonized M. McG. Dana, D.D. “He can use their gifts, whether they be the pennies which they have earned, or some piece of handiwork they have made. None are too young.”

(3) Prayer

The Child in Focus
The Lesson
Story Source
“So I (the child’s father) asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.”
Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.”
Mark 9: 17-29

This child was deaf and dumb. He suffered seizures. He seemed to have suicidal tendencies. So did the disciples issue a healing command for physical and mental relief? Or did they recognize that beyond what their physical eyes could see, the child was targeted by a force of evil in the spiritual realm?

How do parents pray today? Do they pray only that the children’s basic needs are met and that they develop physical, mental and social health? Or do they make meaningful intercession that the child will also submit his spirit to God?

Jesus addressed the evil spirit, a feat at which humans cannot succeed without divine covering over their human limits and vulnerabilities. Some versions state prayer plus fasting as a way to combat evil forces seeking to destroy our children. This was a warning for all times that we do not underestimate the power of evil forces which target us and our children; and that our only defense is intentional prayer.

(4) Inclusion

Children in Focus
The Lesson
Story Source
Some parents brought their children to Jesus . . . But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.
But Jesus said, “Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”
Matthew 19: 13-15

"Let the Children Come."

Painting by Carl Bloch
Painting by Carl Bloch | Source

This (NLT) and other versions make it clear that the disciples rebuked the people who brought the children, not necessarily the children. Their attitude was that people should know better than to interrupt Jesus in His Kingdom business.

Church authorities who think that they have a monopoly on Jesus are the ones who should know better.

By His response, Jesus pointed out that His mission was one of inclusion; that children were a necessary part of it; that His ultimate aim was a world of people with childlike qualities. By blessing the children, He gave approval and significance to the ordinary people who seek His blessings for themselves and for the children.

(5) Trust

The Child in Focus
The Outcome
Story Source
[The man] asked [Jesus] to come down and heal his son. . . Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.”
The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him. . . And he himself believed, and all his household.
John 4: 46-54

The child’s father exercised his level of faith by asking Jesus to heal his sick son; but he believed that Jesus had to be physically present for healing to take place. What Jesus said to him in essence was that it was time to grow his faith into trust—to act as if Jesus would do what He promised.

It was a teaching moment for Jesus, and the child became His teaching aid. As C. H. Spurgeon commented, “How often does it happen that children . . . sweetly lead their parents to God and heaven!

The son’s wellbeing was the father’s priority, and by restoring the boy, Jesus convinced the father that He was trustworthy. Consequently, the man convinced his entire household that they should trust Him too. God can be trusted for restoration in ourselves and in our children, whether or not we recognize Him in action, or understand how He is doing it.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Dora Weithers

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      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 5 days ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Manatita. I know that your expertise include Jesus and the children, so this comment from you is meaningful.

      • manatita44 profile image

        manatita44 5 days ago from london

        You cover these essential qualities well. Things that we should be, or are incorporating in our lives. So necessary for the Kingdom's safe. Excellent work, Dora.

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 7 days ago from The Caribbean

        Tamarajo, I agree absolutely. The children also learn when they're among us. Why separate them? At least, not all the time.

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 7 days ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Bill. True, we learn from Jesus not to underestimate the significance of the children.

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 7 days ago from The Caribbean

        Jo, thanks for your comment. A little reminder every now and then.

      • Tamarajo profile image

        Tamarajo 7 days ago

        Hi Dora,

        I liked the arrangement of your article. It really did help showcase each scene with its unique lesson.

        All in all, I would love to see more church-centered things include children. It seems that presently we send them to different places while the adults do their thing.

        It may be noisier and a sometimes distracting to a service, event, or activity but I think kids have something to offer, and lessons to teach us as your writing well presents.

      • lifegate profile image

        William Kovacic 7 days ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

        I missed this one somewhere along the line, but glad I found it. I think we still have a lot of modern day disciples who rebuke the children. They absolutely should be included, especially in Kingdom business. Thanks, Dora.

      • jo miller profile image

        Jo Miller 8 days ago from Tennessee

        Thanks, Dora, for the reminder of these wonderful lessons that Jesus taught.

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 11 days ago from The Caribbean

        Frank, thanks for the affirmation and the smile it puts in my heart.

      • Frank Atanacio profile image

        Frank Atanacio 11 days ago from Shelton

        MsDora, I'm going to correct you... maybe the first time I did it here, but I feel a need too.. Your hubs is what pushes us toward excellence.. you make us better.. so enjoy being in the driver's seat and leave it at that... I'd learn so much from you over the past years... so thank you for that... period... end of story...:) Frank

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 11 days ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Frank. Your kind comments always push me toward excellence.

      • Frank Atanacio profile image

        Frank Atanacio 11 days ago from Shelton

        Beautiful, powerful, strong, moving and with great wisdom and compassion.. the way this hub should read.. bless you MsDora...:)

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 12 days ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Michael. You summarize very well our duty to our children and what God expects. We should all take heed.

      • Michael-Milec profile image

        Michael-Milec 13 days ago

        Poverfu message, well chosen Scripture.In His sacred interaction, teaching, ministry to Children, Christ Jesus instructs the adults- namely the parents to our main duty on this earth is to instruct/educate our children in godly living and finaly return them into the hands of the heavenly Father...

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 13 days ago from The Caribbean

        "The children are special and we can learn from them as much as we teach." Thanks for that valuable input. I wholeheartedly agree.

      • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

        Tim Truzy 2 weeks ago from U.S.A.

        Ms. Dora,

        As always, thought provoking while informative and spiritually educating in your work.

        I love the stories you selected, guided by His Hand, your words help us to remember the children are special and we can learn from them as much as we teach. You are a wise and caring servant of the One True God and His Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ.

        I learn every time I read your articles; there so useful that I read them twice.

        May God Bless you,

        Sincerely,

        Tim

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 weeks ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks Eric. You're one of the lucky ones who get loved in the same group with Jesus. Good job you're doing with your child.

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 weeks ago from The Caribbean

        Leland, thanks for your valuable input. I like the Lloyd-Jones phrase. Glad you included it.

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 weeks ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Bill. God bless you too, and all those who value and nurture the children.

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 weeks ago from The Caribbean

        Jay C. Thanks for your input. Yes, Jesus was a good example on interaction with others.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 2 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Thank you Dora. I think you know me well enough to not be surprised that this brought tears of gratitude. On asking who my son loved the most. Mom still was at the top, but before me, his dad, was Jesus. Perhaps I should take great pride in being mentioned in the same breath. I am taught love by my children.

        Awesome work here and I lean toward John in my perspective.

      • Leland Johnson profile image

        Leland Johnson 2 weeks ago from Midland MI

        Hi Ms. Dora,

        I remember being child like. Now it seems I spend so much of my life trying to get back to that trustful innocence again. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones talked about the humility of children saying that it is shown in the way they are oblivious to things that are unimportant, things as adults, we find very important. Things like mismatched socks. A child could put on two different colored socks and not think a thing about it. Jones said they have "a blessed unawareness of themselves." It is that "unawareness" that society harms. We are groomed to worry about what others think and less inclined to just trust the God who made us and to reach up to Him, like children, to ask Him why He made us and what our purposes are- just trusting Him to show us. Thanks for posting this article and making me think :) Blessings.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        They are our future and our best hope for humanity....God bless the children!

      • Jay C OBrien profile image

        Jay C OBrien 2 weeks ago from Houston, TX USA

        I certainly follow the teachings of Jesus as to how to interact with people and society. I am in favor of New Testament (NT) teachings and renounce any depiction of God as being: Jealous, Vengeful or Wrathful. These are all OT depictions of God. Imagine Jesus with Joshua invading a foreign land and killing its children. The Book of Joshua has got to be wrong. Thus, I move we separate the books of the Bible into its original books and only follow those which follow the teachings of Jesus.

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 weeks ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Mary. I agree that "just by being" children add life to our world. It would be great if everyone understood the significance of that.

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 weeks ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Larry. Just teaching the children a little bit everyday about Jesus would make a world of difference.

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 weeks ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Flourish. Encouraged by your comment on the layout and the prayer questions. I appreciate your input.

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 2 weeks ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Whonu. It is true that some parents are not seriously concerned about their children's welfare. Shame on them! Jesus prioritized the children.

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 2 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

        Children do have a special message by just being. I always love the quote...and a little child shall lead them. This is a good topic for meditation.

      • Larry Fish profile image

        Larry W Fish 2 weeks ago from Raleigh

        Putting the attention to children about, Jesus at an early age is very important in their upbringing. It is sad that in this day and age religion is not to be mentioned in public schools. I think that is a big mistake. To many children now are going down the wrong path that could be changed if they were taught about the love of, Jesus.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

        I like how you structured your message to include the child in focus, the lesson or outcome, and the scripture citation. Children are some of the least appreciated and advocated for members of our world. I also appreciated the questions you asked about parents' prayers for their children.

      • whonunuwho profile image

        whonunuwho 2 weeks ago from United States

        The Lord Jesus well knew the importance of teaching the children. If we only followed Him today and showed our true concern for all children's welfare. Many blessings MsDora and thank you for sharing this wonderful story. whonu

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