The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them.
Mark 10:13-16 (MSG)
Our sacred scriptures are also filled with a prophetic and theological imagination that embraces the concepts of looking at the world from a child’s point of view, which is untainted by adulthood. In many instances, the Bible shows that the call to become a disruptor of the status-quo is instilled inside those who are chosen to shake the system from birth or at a very young age.
Biblical figures such as Joseph, Moses, and David, all had a calling on their lives from birth, and their unique experiences and challenges, are pillars to the overall theological imagination of the Jewish theological narrative.
The prophetic and theological imagination of the Hebrew Bible calls for justice to be enacted on widows, orphans, and the poor. A theme that is present throughout the prophetic books which appeal to the people of the land to turn back to those commandments in order to avoid calamity. Children are to be instructed in the ways of God so that they can grow up knowing that they are part of theological history that liberate people instead of oppressing them.
The messianic expectations of the prophetic writings are filled with the narrative that the world will come to order at the hands of a child that is to be the embodiment of the hope of God for all of humanity.
It is these theological understandings on the importance of the potential that a child might have in the world, that we are left with a sense in the New Testament not just to take care of children, as commanded in the Hebrew Bible, but not to be sources of extra frustrations and hardship for them. Jesus, in the Gospel of Matthew, states that the world is filled with challenges, and is in no way unaware of the difficulties of growing up.
What Jesus commands is that as adults, we serve as caretakers for children, not just those who are in our family, our communities, or even our nation, but for all of the children who are undoubtedly children of God. (Matthew 18:7) In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus once again reminds the disciples to not get in the way of children who are trying to reach him. He goes on to say that one must accept the Kingdom mentality, with the simplistic understanding of a child’s mind. (Mark 10:14-15) Here, once again, Jesus describes the mind of a child as simple, yet, to them belongs the Kingdom of God.