SUFFER THE LITTLE CHILDREN
TO COME UNTO ME
By John C. Carpenter
 
At one point, some little children were brought to Jesus (Mark 10:13). Jesus’ disciples became angry and rebuked those who had brought the children into Christ‘s presence. Scriptures then tell us, But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them [His disciples], Suffer [to send forth, i.e., let] the little children [little, young, child, damsel] to come unto [approach and be with] me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein (Mark 10:14-15). In verse 14, the English words “little” and “children” are both the Greek word “paidion,“ which means “a childling, an infant, a half-grown boy or girl, an immature Christian, little, young, child, or damsel..“ The teaching to His disciples was clear: (1) Christ wants “little children” to come unto Him, (2) Christ strictly forbids others from hindering or preventing these “little children” from coming unto Him, (3) the kingdom of God is comprised of these “little children,” and (4) anyone who does not receive the kingdom of God as these “little children” shall not have access to, nor enter into, the Kingdom of God. In this issue, we will discuss who these “little children” are that these Scriptures are referring to, the importance of smallness in the Kingdom of God, the dangers of “largeness” in the Kingdom of God, and, lastly, the relationship these little children have to the Kingdom?
 
THESE LITTLE ONES WHICH BELIEVE IN ME
 
Who are these “little children” that Christ is speaking of? Holy Scriptures more than adequately answer this question. In the gospel account of Matthew, Holy Scriptures tell us, At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted [turn quite around or reverse], and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble [to depress, to humiliate (in condition or heart), abase, bring low, humble (self)] himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea (Mat 18:1-6). Christ taught that these “little ones” are individuals who believe in Him. Just before the feast of passover (John 13:1), Jesus ended the supper with His disciples (John 13:2) and began to wash their feet (John 13:5). Later, Jesus, clearly speaking to His disciples [individuals who believed on Him] said to them, Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (John 13:33-35). Jesus identified His own disciples, who had faith in Him, as little children. In his letter to fellow believers, when the apostle John wrote, Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4), he clearly identified little children as individuals of God. Lastly, writing to Christian churches [fellow believers in Christ] in Galatia, Paul referred to the recipients of his letter as My little children (Gal 4:19). The apostle John also knew the “little children.” In an effort to instruct a congregation of fellow believers who were sinning, John initially wrote, My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1), and later wrote, ...I write unto you,little children, because ye have known the Father(1 John 2:13). John identified the little children as those who have an advocate of Christ with the Father and who have known the Father. It is very clear that when Christ and His apostles refer to “little children,” they are not referring to physical children who are of a certain chronological age. “Little children” specifically refers to “spiritual” children who have converted from arrogant rejection of Christ to humble faith in Christ, whose advocate with God the Father is Jesus Christ, who have come to know the Father through faith in Christ, and who, as a result of their faith, shall inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.
 
HE THAT IS LEAST AMONG YOU ALL
 
In order to more fully understand who these “little children” are and their significance, we must first understand that, from Gods’ view, smallness has not only been important, but essential to the Kingdom of Heaven, and that in the Kingdom smallness [humility] is always associated with greatness. For example, in the gospel of Luke, Christ made another interesting reference to little children. After Jesus healed a child with an unclean spirit (Luke 9:38-42) and foretold His own death and resurrection (Luke 9:44), the Lord’s disciples began reasoning among themselves which of them should be greatest (Luke 9:46). Holy Scriptures then tell us, And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him, And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive [accept] this childin my name [nature and character] receiveth [can and will accept and believe on] me: and whosoever shall receive [accept] me [Christ] receiveth [accepts] him [God the Father] that sent me: for he that is least [Greek: mikros] among you all, the same shall be great [Greek: megas] (Luke 9:47-48). In Luke 9:47-48, the English word “child,” as in our subject verses, is the Greek word “paidion,“ which means “a childling, an infant, a half-grown boy or girl, an immature Christian, little, young, child, or damsel.” In Luke 9:48, the English word “least” is the Greek word “mikros,“ which means “small in size, quantity, or number, least, less, little.” The English word “great” is the Greek word “megas,“ which means “big (literally or figuratively), exceedingly, great, greatest, high, large, loud, mighty, or strong.” Again, Christ is not referring here to the physical child who is in His presence, but using the physical child as an example to make a spiritual point. His spiritual point is that any individual who shall receive a “small” individual [who has humility] can and will receive Christ, and whosoever receives Christ also receives God the Father. Christ then summarizes His spiritual point that the least [small, i.e., humble] individual is considered the greatest in the Kingdom of God. Smallness is so important that Christ even used it to describe the kingdom of heaven. He said to His disciples, Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least [mikros, i.e.,small (in size, quantity, number or (fig.) dignity, least, less, little, small] of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest [meizon, i.e., larger (lit. or fig., spec. in age), elder, greater (-est)] among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof (Mat 13:31-32). Meekness is specifically required for salvation. James instructed the twelve tribes of Israel to, ...lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness [mildness, humility] the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls(James 1:21). Holy Scriptures also teach us, Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven [a small substance], which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened [fermented, risen; i.e., enlarged] (Mat 13:33). After explaining the importance of feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, taking in strangers, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, and visiting the imprisoned, Christ immediately added, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least [elachistos; i.e., short, least (in size, amount, dignity, etc.), very little (small), or smallest] of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me (Mat 25:34-40). Christ additionally taught His disciples, He that is faithful in that which is least [elachistos; i.e., short, least (in size, amount, dignity, etc.), very little (small), smallest] is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much (Luke 16:10). The great apostle Paul said of himself, ...I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God (1 Cor 15:9), and Unto me, who am less than the leastof all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ (Eph 3:8). The apostle Paul also understood well who the little ones are. Paul wrote to fellow believers in the church at Corinth, For ye see your calling,brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh [men with worldly cunning, knowledge, and understanding], not many mighty [powerful, capable] , not many noble [well born, high in rank] are called: But God hath chosen the foolish [dull or stupid (as if shut up), i.e. heedless, moral blockhead, absurd] things of the world to confound the wise [individuals or things characterized by worldly cunning, knowledge, and understanding]; and God hath chosen the weak [more feeble, impotent, sick, without strength] things of the world to confound [to shame, disgrace] the things which are mighty [boisterous, mightier, powerful, strong, valiant]; And base [without kin, of unknown descent, ignoble] things of the world, and things which are despised [contemptible, least esteemed], hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought [abolish, destroy, make of no effect, put away, make void, render entirely useless] things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence (1 Cor 1:26-29). Paul not only clarified to the church in Corinth that not many who had worldly wisdom, power, or importance would be called by God the Father to be His sons or daughters, but that God has specifically chosen the simple to shame the wise, the weak to disgrace the strong, and the ignoble and least esteemed, the things that are not wise, mighty, and noble after the flesh, to render useless those that are wise, mighty, and noble. Christ explained the characteristics of smallness to His disciples by saying, ...whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister [attendant, waiter, teacher, pastor, deacon, minister, servant.]: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many (Mark 10:43-45). Christ even revealed His own smallness when He said, Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek [gentle, humble] and lowly [depressed, humiliated, base, cast down, humble, of low degree] in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls (Mat 11:29). Concerned and anxious about their reward for becoming disciples of Christ, Peter and some other disciples of Christ asked the Lord Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore (Mat 19:27)? Using a parable which explained the necessity of smallness, Jesus responded, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first[foremost in time, place, order or importance, best, chiefest; i.e., biggest] shall be last [farthest, ends of, latter end, lowest, uttermost; i.e., smallest]; and the last shall be first. For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen (Mat 19:28-20:16). Speaking to Gentile believers (Rom 11:13) who were, because they had come to faith in Christ, pridefully boasting against the Jews (Rom 11:18) who were continuing to reject Christ (Rom 11:1-36), the apostle Paul attempted to clarify the dangers of their prideful behavior. Paul exhorted the Gentile believers, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly [to esteem oneself overmuch, be vain or arrogant, think more highly] than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith (Rom 12:1-3). Paul wrote Ephesian believers, I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness [humiliation of mind, modesty] and meekness [gentleness], with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love (Eph 4:1-2), and Philippian believers, Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves (Phil 2:3). John the Baptist said of Christ, He must increase [enlarge, grow in rank or influence], but I must decrease [lessen in rank or influence, become lower] (John 3:30). The Lord gave us the ultimate example of smallness and humility. Scriptures instruct us that Christ, Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation [to make empty, i.e. to abase, neutralize], and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross(Phil 2:6-8).
 
GOD RESISTETH THE PROUD
 
According to Scriptures, the opposite of smallness [humility] is largeness [pride]. To the Christian and non-Christian alike, but especially the Christian, largeness, or worldly greatness, arrogance and pride, can be dangerous and destructive. God the Father hates pride, and His attitude regarding pride is made clear in the epistle of James. James, the half-brother of Jesus wrote to the twelve tribes of Israel scattered abroad, From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth [to range oneself against, i.e. oppose] the proud [appearing above others (conspicuous), i.e. haughty, proud], but giveth grace unto the humble (James 4:1-6). Pride is worldly lust which leads to envy, fightings, wars, and killing. God not only resists those who are prideful, but considers them His enemy. Scriptures also teach us, The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate (Prov 8:13), and When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom (Prov 11:2). God the Father also teaches us, Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall (Prov 16:18), and A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit (Prov 29:23). The prophet Isaiah reveals God the Father‘s attitude and intent regarding pride: The LORD of hosts hath purposed it, to stain [break] the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honourable of the earth (Isa 23:9). In describing the dynamics of defilement, Christ firmly explained to His disciples, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man (Mark 7:20-23). The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy that those lifted up with pride fall into the condemnation of the devil (1 Tim 3:6), while the apostle Paul verified the worldly nature, and dangers, of pride when he wrote, Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever (1 John 2:15-17). In Holy Scriptures, the term “leaven” is used to represent something small which may have a large impact. Although not always the case, leaven is often used to symbolize arrogance, pride, and evil. To reflect the evils of hypocrisy, Christ warned His disciples to ...Take heed and beware of the leavenof the Pharisees and of the Sadducees (Mat 16:6). In this case, leaven referred not to the leaven used in baking bread, but to the doctrine [instruction, teachings] of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees (Mat 16:12), which Christ explained were hypocritical (Luke 12:1). Because the apostle Paul knew of arrogance and pride in the Corinthian church. Paul exhorted the Corinthian believers, And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up [to inflate, make proud or haughty] for one against another (1 Cor 4:6). Paul later explained to those in Corinth one of the key characteristics of love by writing, Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up (1 Cor 13:4). Paul also warned the Colossian church, in which some false teachers were arrogantly teaching heresy, Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God (Col 2:18-19). The apostle Paul was highly concerned about personally visiting the church in Corinth, claiming, For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings [haughtiness], tumults (2 Cor 12:20). Interestingly, Scriptures often teach that one of the key characteristics of false ministers and teachers is pride and arrogance. The apostle Peter warned against false prophets and teachers (2 Pet 2:1) who ...when they speak great swelling [bulging over, insolent] words of vanity [inutility], they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error (2 Pet 2:18). Jude, the servant of Christ, was also highly concerned about the arrogance of false teachers, described them by writing, These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling [bulging over, insolent] words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage (Jude 1:16). Christ accurately described the puffed up arrogance of the Jewish Scribes and Pharisees when He warned, But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi [an official title of honor; i.e, Master], Rabbi (Mat 23:5-7). Arrogance and pride are so dangerous for one reason: they result in rejection of God. Scriptures instruct us, The wicked, through [because of] the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts (Psa 10:4), and the natural man [who has not humbly received Christ] receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned(1 Cor 2:14). Christ explained that the arrogant, unbelieving world could not believe in and receive the Holy Spirit because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him... (John 14:17).
 
FOR OF SUCH IS THE KINDGOM OF GOD
 
What is the outcome, the result, the reward for “little children,” individuals who have humbled themselves, and have come to faith in Jesus Christ? The answer is clear: the Kingdom of God. Jesus Christ left no doubt that only the individual who humbles himself, who develops and possesses the humility as characteristic of a little child, shall enter into the Kingdom of God. Christ also not only made it clear that He wanted “little children” to come to Him, He demanded that others allow the “little children” to come unto Him. As Christ entered into the coasts of Judaea by the farther side of Jordan, the people came to Him, and He began to teach them. Scriptures then tell us, And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therei (Mark 10:13-15). Christs’ disciples were “little children,” individuals who had humbly come to faith in Christ. Because they had given up their lives, families, and jobs to follow Christ, they questioned Him about their reward. Peter and the other disciples asked Christ,Behold, we have [with childlike humility of faith] forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last [lowest] shall be first [foremost in importance (Mat 19:27-30). Christ Himself made it perfectly clear to His own disciples that because they had humbled themselves as little children and come to faith in Him, they would eventually sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel, as well as receive an hundredfold and inherit everlasting life. He also clarified that those who place themselves last (least important; i.e., smallest) shall be considered first (most important; i.e., largest) in the Kingdom. Christ taught, ...whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted (Mat 23:12). Mary, the mother of Christ, praised God with these words: ...his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath showed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree (Luke 1:50-52). Scriptures describe for us the relationship between the humility and exaltation. Regarding Christ, they reflect, If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name (Phil 2:1-9). James wrote, Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted (James 1:9), while the apostle Peter instructs believers, Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time (1 Pet 5:6). Regarding the reward for the believer, Scriptures also teach us, Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth(Mat 5:5). The apostle John wrote, But as many as [humbled themselves as little children and] received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even [specifically] to them that believe on his name (John 1:12).
 
Scriptures make it abundantly clear who the “little children” are, and why they are so important to God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. Little children are individuals who have humbled themselves, received Christ and God the Father, are of God, have the advocate of Jesus Christ with the Father, have known the Father, are not often mighty or noble, are servants of all, are meek and lowly as Christ, have placed themselves last in importance, in lowliness of mind esteem others better than themselves, have received the Kingdom of God with humility, are considered by God the Father to be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel, shall receive eternal life, shall be exalted, and shall inherit the earth. Christ wants these individuals to be able to approach and be with Him, in this life, and eternally. He loves them and longs to be with them, and sternly forbids anyone from preventing these humbled believers from coming to Him. For those who prevent little children [believers] from coming to Christ, the consequences are severe He scolded Jewish leaders who were doing just that: But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer [permit] ye them that are entering to go in (Mat 23:13). Conversely, He also clarifies that only “little children” who have humbled themselves can come to Him and partake of the Kingdom of God. Is this not what Christ meant when He said, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.  AMEN.
 
 
THE CHRISTIAN HERALD
                                                           A Judeo-Christian Bible Study
 
"But I say unto
you, Love your enemies, bless
them that curse
you, do good
to them that
hate you, and
pray for them
which despitefully use
you, and
persecute you"
(Mat 5:44)


 
Home
Our
Beliefs
TCH
Articles
 
Links
Study
Aids
 
Books
Subject-Verse Index