1) Give Meaningful Touch
Then the little children were brought to Jesus that He may lay hands on them.
After the discussion about divorce and His disciples asking Jesus some private questions about divorce, we now see people bringing Children to Jesus to be prayed over. This is similar to what many churches do with Child dedication. The small children would be brought to the Rabbi for him to say a prayer of blessing over. The Laying on hands was commonly used in Jewish culture and it was so meaningful and personal that we would find it awkward.
Genesis 27:26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.”
Come Near or come close was a term that was used to describe the overlapping scales on alligator skin
The culture practiced physical touch that was meaningful to the children.
Physical touch was used in:
Genesis 48:14 And Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, crossing his hands (for Manasseh was the firstborn). 15 And he blessed Joseph and said,“The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day,16 the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys; and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude[c] in the midst of the earth.”
B) Sending out
Acts 6:6, These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.
(See also Acts 13:3; Numbers 27:18, Deuteronomy 34:9)
Matthew 8:1-3 When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. 2 And behold, a leper[a] came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 3 And Jesus[b] stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
Jesus could have healed the leper with a word but the biggest healing the leper needed was someone to touch him. A man that may have not felt human contact for years, longed to have a hug or even a handshake.
Physical touch is so powerful that research has shown that it can actually cure some of the symptoms we have.
“How would you like to lower your husband’s or wife’s blood pressure? Protect your grade-school child from being involved in an immoral relationship later in life? Even add up to two years to your own life? Actually, these are all findings in studies on the incredible power to bless found in meaningful touch.” (The Blessing, John Trent and Gary Smalley Pg 63)
But the Disciples rebuked them
Rebuked means to threaten. We are not sure why they acted this way but I know from experience that some churches have acted this way at times. Jesus literally became angry with His disciples over how they were treating the children. We can criticize the disciples for thinking how dumb they are to keep children away from Jesus but then we have to look at our own lives and see if we are doing the same.
Let the Children come to me and do not forbid them.
We have a responsibility to remove obstacles out of our children’s lives so they can get to Jesus
2) Lead them to Jesus
A) Remind them they are created by God
Psalm 139:13-14 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
To be created means your life has purpose. In the movie I Robot the robot who was created special by his creator looks at Will Smith and ask , “Do you think you were created for a purpose? I do” How you view yourself will set you on a journey of servant hood or narcissism. If you believe God created you to worship Him and serve others then it will lead you to be a servant. If you believe that you were not created with a purpose it can lead to you being self absorbed and only doing things that bring you pleasure.
B) Teach them the ways of God
2 Timothy 3:14-16 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom[a] you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[b] may be complete, equipped for every good work. (See also Deuteronomy 6)
It is an ongoing repetitive process when we teach our children. No one hardly learns the first time around and we have to constantly remind them of the things of God. We cannot grow discouraged in doing this because it is those very things that they will remember later in life.
C) Set an Example
1 Timothy 4:11-13 Command and teach these things. 12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.
Your life shows what is important more than your words. Your children will do some of the same things you do just because they have learned to mimic you. We blame a lot of things on why our children walk away from the faith and we might want to look in the mirror. Non of us are perfect and at some point each child has to make their own decision to follow Christ, but our actions will teach them more than our words.
3) Give them words of encouragement
Mark 10:16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.
Words of encouragement are huge in our children’s development and we can never assume that they know we love them. Most of us do not know how to give words of encouragement because we did not experience that ourselves. We tend to focus on the negative things of life instead of the positive things that they are doing.
When we do try to be positive we usually say “ Although you frustrate me, I love you”
There is a principle for correction called the Sandwich principle. The idea is that when you have to correct someone you first tell them something positive about them and then you tell the thing you need to correct and then back to a positive statement. I have had this technique used on me several times and I do not like it. The reason is even though you are sharing two positives with me the only reason you are doing so is to lighten the pain of me hearing the negative. But the reality is the negative you are saying outweighs the two positives. If the middle of the sandwich taste bad I throw out the whole sandwich. So what I would encourage you to do is to encourage your kids enough separately and then if you have to correct do so but they will know you love them because of all the encouragement they have received from you already.
When is the last time you caught your kid doing something right?
We have a responsibility as parents and as a church to not keep children from coming and finding Jesus. Parents, it is not too late to start these principles no matter how old your children are.
Get the book The Blessing by John Trent and Gary Smalley and learn how to do some of these Biblical principles.
For the Kingdom belongs to such as these.
Jesus again demonstrates what it takes to go into the kingdom of God. A child does not earn their way into the home, they are brought into the home. They cannot earn their salvation and can only simply trust in Jesus Christ that He is the one who can bring them into Heaven. Children have a trust about them when they are young and that is the same trust we are to have when we accept Christ free offer of salvation that He gave us through His death and resurrection.
To bless someone in your life: Place your hand on them (meaningful touch) and tell them something positive without bringing up anything negative.