Jesus loves the little children. His love and concern for even the littlest ones of society is demonstrated in the fact that people were eager to bring their children to him. It’s obvious that they saw Jesus, powerful a figure as he was, as someone who would receive babies and toddlers into his arms. And Jesus encouraged them to come.
The disciples saw things differently. They were used to large crowds gathering around Jesus all vying for his attention, and they likely saw it as their responsibility to maintain some type of order amongst the clamoring of the crowds. They didn’t want Jesus to be bombarded with hordes of desperate people looking for healing and blessing.
When crowds of mothers and fathers started bringing their children to Jesus so he would bless them, the disciples tried to put a stop to the chaos. No doubt there were crying babies and toddlers throwing a fit and little ones running around in the dust. The disciples reasoned that Jesus could make better use of his time, and his miracle-working powers, than sitting down with little children who could hardly babble his name, let alone understand that he was the Messiah. Jesus ought to be talking to the religious authorities and speaking in front of the masses, not blessing babies. And so the disciples rebuked the parents who were bringing the children to Jesus.
The disciples were once again looking at everything through worldly lenses and failed to take into account the heavenly perspective. And that’s why Jesus stepped in and reminded them of how God sees things. But it wasn’t just a friendly reminder. No, Jesus was angry. The disciples had things completely backwards and their false understanding of the kingdom was creating an obstacle for children to come to Jesus.
The disciples actions revealed their mistaken view of the kingdom of God. They placed more value on intelligence and productivity than humility and faith. Jesus turned things upside down and placed the importance on a simple trust in One far greater and wiser than ourselves. That is the natural disposition of children. When children are scared they instinctively turn to the father or mother. When children have questions they ask their parents and take their answers at face value. Children believe without doubt that they are loved by their parents.
The kingdom of God belongs to those who trust in God for their salvation and believe God when he says he loves them. The kingdom of God does not belong to those who have attained a high level of doctrinal knowledge or who have spent their lives working amongst the poor and vulnerable. This upside-down way into the kingdom goes against the default mode of our sinful human nature; which is why the disciples tried to stop the children from coming to Jesus and why we so often do the same.