Jesus with the little children - Artist Unknown

The people of Judea brought little children to Jesus to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples tried to turn them away. Jesus said,

“Let the little children come to me. Do not hinder them for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

After he placed his hands on the little children and prayed for them, he went on from there.

What the story means to us today

Children are the perfect picture of a true Christian

Jesus with the little children - Artist UnknownJesus tells us the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are like children. In Matthew 18:1, Jesus explained the example that children set for Christians. Children have a kind, accepting, trusting spirit that embodies humbleness and true humility. These traits are stressed throughout the Bible as traits a true Christian should possess.

Additional thoughts and considerations

Why would the disciples object to Jesus healing children?

The Bible does not say the parents were asking Jesus to heal the children. They were asking Jesus to lay his hands on them and bless them. This was common with rabbis in ancient Israel. Still, it is not clear why the disciples objected to this. Possibly the people were delaying Jesus’ travels since the final verse tells us that after laying hands on the children, they left the area.

“Jesus loves the little children” – the song

The celebrated Christian children’s song “Jesus loves the little children” was based partially on these verses. The song was sung to the tune of Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, a popular Civil War song written by George F. Root in 1864. The song was rewritten more than a decade later by Minister Clarence Herbert Woolston, one of Root’s favorite lyricists, to include the lyrics we know today.

The original lyrics are:

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Jesus calls the children dear,

Come to Me and never fear,

For I love the little children of the world;

I will take you by the hand,

Lead you to the better land,

For I love the little children of the world.

Refrain

Jesus loves the little children,

All the children of the world.

Red and yellow, black and white,

All are precious in His sight,

Jesus loves the little children of the world.

[Alternate refrain:

Jesus died for all the children,

All the children of the world.

Red and yellow, black and white,

All are precious in His sight,

Jesus died for all the children of the world.]

Jesus is the Shepherd true,

And He’ll always stand by you,

For He loves the little children of the world;

He’s a Savior great and strong,

And He’ll shield you from the wrong,

For He loves the little children of the world.

Refrain

I am coming, Lord, to Thee,

And Your soldier I will be,

For You love the little children of the world;

And Your cross I’ll always bear,

And for You I’ll do and dare,

For You love the little children of the world.

Refrain

Jesus with the little children - Artist UnknownModern lyrics are:

Jesus loves the little children

All the children of the world

Red, brown, yellow

Black and white

They are precious in His sight

Jesus loves the little children

Of the world

Jesus died for all the children

All the children of the world

Red, brown, yellow

Black and white

They are precious in His sight

Jesus died for all the children

Of the world.

Jesus rose for all the children

All the children of the world

Red, brown, yellow

Black and white

They are precious in His sight

Jesus rose for all the children

Of the world

An alternative version of Jesus loves the little children is:

Jesus loves the little children,

All the children of the world.

Fat and skinny, short and tall,

Jesus loves them one and all

The science and history behind the story

How children were treated in the ancient East

Children were treated differently in the ancient East. They were loved of course but were negligible in other ways. Children were expected to be quiet, respectful, and speak only when spoken to.

Bible Text

Jesus with the little children - Artist UnknownNIV

13 Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.

14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.

The New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. Print.

The NET Bible

Then little children were brought to him for him to lay his hands on them and pray. But the disciples scolded those who brought them. 19:14 But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 19:15 And he placed his hands on them and went on his way.

Biblical Studies Press. The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press, 2006. Print.

New King James Version

13 Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.

The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.

The Message

One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus intervened: “Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.” After laying hands on them, he left.

Peterson, Eugene H. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005. Print.

King James Version

13 Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. 15 And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.

The Holy Bible: King James Version. Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009. Print.

Sources: NIV, The Message, The NET Bible, King James Version, NET Bible Notes, Faithlife Study Bible, The Apologetics Study Bible, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Commentary, The Bible Reader’s Companion, Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Holman Concise Bible Commentary, The Bible Exposition Commentary, The Teacher’s Bible Commentary, The Teacher’s Commentary, The Bible Guide, Word Studies in the New Testament, Holman Bible Handbook, Calvin Commentaries, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines, The New Manner and Customs of the Bible, Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, The Lexham Bible Dictionary, Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Harper’s Bible Dictionary, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, The Archaeological Encyclopedia, Biblical Archaeology Review, The New Bible Dictionary, The Lexham Analytical Lexicon, Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database
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