“Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19: 13-14). “And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them” (Mark 10:16).
The multitudes were understandably eager for their offspring to be blessed by Christ, but were dismissed by His disciples, who felt Jesus should not be disturbed with such matters. Nonetheless, Christ welcomed the children and embraced them. Through His receptive response, He taught the immeasurable worth of each soul – and specifically how the precious innocence of childhood is to be cherished. President Gordon B. Hinckley likewise counseled: “Save the children. Too many suffer and weep. God bless us to be mindful of them, to lift them and guide them as they walk in dangerous paths, to pray for them, to bless them, to love them, to keep them secure until they can run with strength of their own…” (footnote: “Save the Children,” General Conference, Oct. 1994.)
The setting from Matthew and Mark is warmly recounted in the first and second verses of “Tell Me the Stories of Jesus” (Children’s Songbook): “Tell me the stories of Jesus I love to hear, things I would ask him to tell me if he were here… Oh, let me hear how the children stood round his knee. I shall imagine his blessings resting on me; words full of kindness, deeds full of grace, all in the love-light of Jesus’ face.”
Additional reading: “Little Children and the Gospel”