And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.…
Parental anxiety led thoughtful women to bring "unto him little children, that he should touch them," according to a custom which has its approval in the hearts of all races and all times, of presenting young children to persons of sanctity and age that they may invoke a blessing upon their young life. Such are brought to Jesus, "that he should lay his hands on them and pray." Touched, perchance, by a remembrance of the humiliating lessons which the presence of a child must now have suggested, "the disciples rebuked them." Why obtrude children on the attention of One who is so competent to deal with adult wisdom? But he who came to correct error and false views, who had redeemed and established the essential marriage laws, now raises child-life to its rightful place. "Moved with indignation" at the indiscretion of the disciples, he said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me; forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God" - words which
(1) are inscribed as on a banner of defense, that has floated from that hour over the heads of "little children;" words which
(2) have been an admonitory corrective of personal vanity and assumption;
(3) have expounded the spirit of the heavenly kingdom;
(4) have expressed the qualification needed by all who would enter within its gates;
(5) have been seized upon as affording a justification for the admission of children into the visible community of the Church by the sacrament of baptism; and
(6) have, especially in these later days, become the stimulus to diligent endeavor to bring the young under religious training and to give them the benefits of religious instruction. By so much did the Master's words of truth rebut the disciples' error, and found upon it a teaching of unlimited benefit. Thus did Christ pay his tribute to the preciousness of life, even in its infancy and imperfectness, and throw the shield of his protection around it. Thus did he compel the attention and effort of his Church in all ages to be paid to young life, knowing its susceptibility and the important bearing of its right treatment on the general condition of human society. "Forbid them not" transforms itself into a command to the heart of the Church, ever attentive to catch the Lord's will, to remove every hindrance from the way of a child's participation in spiritual benefits. And "suffer them to come unto me" becomes an equally authoritative command to bring them unto him; to place them in close alliance wish him, and, if with him, then with his kingdom. For if he, the Head of the house, receive them, they of the household may not reject them; and if he take them up in his arms, surely they may come within the embrace of his Church. If they lie in his bosom at the head of the table, they may not be denied a place in the house, or be denied a portion of its bread or a measure of its care; while their purity, helplessness, trustful dependence, and tractableness form the typical example of that spirit which he desires shall characterize all the subjects of his kingdom, all the members of his household, in every age. - G.
Parallel VersesKJV: And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.