Psalm 139:13-16, Proverbs 17:6, Matthew 18:1-6, Matthew 19:14, Matthew 21:14-16, Mark 10:13-16, Ephesians 6:1-4
Somewhat like you never forget the face of your first girlfriend, I believe the flavor in which you first memorized Scripture stays with you for a long, long time. For me, that was the King James Version.
The verses from Mark’s Gospel (KJV) contain this memorable phrase: Suffer the little children to come. As a boy I remember hearing that Sunday School story and thinking the word “suffer” meant then what it to us means today. Maybe someone tried to clarify this, but I cannot recall a single teacher helping us or me understand that the word meant “to allow, or permit.”
So back then, in my mind’s eye, I envisioned Jesus cutting through the crowd of disciples and grownups, making straight the way for these little suffering children who were as innocent as dew but happened to be born in a time when the small and weak had no voice at all. And Jesus looked in their suffering faces and possibly winked and said, “C’mere.” And they did.
I’m willing to bet there were some suffering children who ran unbridled into His arms, full speed ahead. I’m also willing to bet there were some sufferers who held back, timid, uncertain of the man before them and His designs. But the story indicates they all eventually came to Jesus, some quick, some gradual. There must have been something about Jesus that wooed them. Maybe the fact that He was well acquainted with suffering, too, and innocence.
Hospitality toward children is essential for the believer. For, as Jesus says, “of such is the Kingdom” (Matthew 19:14). There is still a pureness to those, as Dickens described, “so fresh from God.” And unfortunately there is still a vile impatience on our culture’s part toward those small and weak. The children, they are still suffering.
Making straight the way for children to see and experience the love and blessing of Christ is grownup work. In other words, it’s hard. Why? Well, that’s an easy answer. It’s hard because it always involves upsetting adults and their adult plans. And that may very well include my own.
Regardless of your preferred scriptural translation, one thing is certain, and of this Jesus is piercingly clear: If you don’t have room for the suffering children, then you don’t have room for the suffering Savior.
So let them come. Amen.
Written By John Blase