Jesus uses little children as examples of the attitude we are to take. The innocence of children give us a good model for trusting God, getting our identity from him and avoiding the evaluation and judgment game.
In this passage, Jesus lifts up the children being brought to him as role models for all who want to participate in the kingdom of God. Young children—because they haven’t been hardened by the ways of the world yet—express qualities that are to be normal for Christians.
Greg reminded us of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” and how, as Christians, we are set free of the judgment game that derives from this knowledge. In this way, we are to return to the perspective of a small child who looks to their good and loving parent and knows that they are loved, cared for, and secure. Of course, we are that child and God is that parent, and that love is expressed profoundly on the cross. We, and everyone else in the world, are worth dying for.
The freedom that comes from trusting this is much like the freedom healthy children express when they dance and play without a care in the world. We too can express this joy and love of life and creation! With this as our perspective, there is no time or motivation to worry about judging others or being judged by them. We know that is not our role but God’s alone.
All of this contrasts sharply with how the disciples responded to those who were bringing their children to Jesus. The disciples had their own ideas about who was important and worthy of Jesus’ attention. They were still caught up in the judgment game. Jesus contradicted them however, and asserted the equality and value that children and all human beings have as inheritors of the kingdom of God.
People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."