Are Children Made In God’s Image?

 

It is significant to me that God created a man and a woman to be His image and likeness. It is significant also that that man and woman would, by God’s power, procreate. This phenomena is the power of God and has a very significant meaning and profound reality to it.

This will likely become a little series, so I want to state my main thought up front. Children are a creation of God in which the realities of the Triune God and His kingdom are on display unlike anything else in our lives. It is important to explain this fully, thus I will attempt to do so over the next few posts. Because of the importance of such a series as this, I encourage you to think about this very carefully and be a “Berean” and search the Scriptures.

Let’s look at some introductory passages to begin our thinking in the right direction. In Mark 10:13-16 there is a little event that each of the Synoptics (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) includes and thus indicates its importance in the life and ministry of Christ.

Jesus is in the Judean region, after having left the region of Galilee (Mt. 19:1f.). He comes to this region and immediately, during one of His teaching times, He is asked a question about divorce and remarriage in order to test Him and get Him in trouble since John the Baptist was also killed after confronting Herod about his unlawful divorce (Mk. 6:14-29). Further, divorce and remarriage were, as they are today, hot topics. So, if they could just get Jesus to slip up here, the crowd would most likely turn on Him in some way, or they might have legal right to accuse Him and punish Him. Either way, it was a ‘set-up.’

In this section, Jesus reiterates the original design and mandate of God from Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:24. In doing this, Jesus is saying that God knew exactly what He was doing, He is God, and we do not reserve the right to alter what He created. Therefore, Jesus said, “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” (Mk 10:9). Therefore, a man and a woman who divorce and remarry commit adultery against their previous spouse. In Matthew 19:9 Jesus apparently stated that an exception to this hard-and-fast rule is sexual immorality on the part of the husband or wife. Once that occurs, divorce may be an option. However, Paul goes on to teach that it needs to be the final option after all other avenues of peace and forbearance has been pursued (1 Corinthians 7:15). The issue of divorce in the Scripture is informative and fascinating as it helps us to understand how to deal with people in this area. However, this is not the place to delve into that topic. Besides, no matter what you might think of divorce, it is still God’s original mandate and created design (from which we should not waver) that a man and a woman maintain their marriage for life to the glory of God.

What is interesting, however, is that Mark enters into the narrative of Jesus’ perception of children. Both Matthew and Mark have this section after the passage on divorce. Luke does not include the passage about divorce at all. But, he does include the passage about children. So, all three Synoptics have this highly important narrative, and for good reason.

All three passages indicate that “they were bringing children (Luke-‘babies’) to [Jesus] so that He might touch them (in blessing which included prayer for them); but the disciples rebuked them.” The components of this are that “they” were bringing young children, even babies, to Jesus for a blessing. The disciples of Christ attempted to rebuke those bringing the children. I would assume that those bringing the children were either parents or close relatives. It is possible that they might have even been neighbors. It simply does not say who they were. However, they were interested in the children receiving a blessing. My assumption is that they were parents.

Jesus did not refuse them, but the disciples did. Why? Why didn’t Jesus refuse the children? The answer comes out in the rebuke of the disciples, so we will look to the disciples first. The disciples began rebuking them. Who were they rebuking? The parents? The children? If they were rebuking the parents, the children heard it so it essentially had the same effect on both.

As a sidenote, remember, Jesus’ response to the disciples demonstrates God’s perspective on children, as well as those who mistreat them. Jesus responded to the disciples exactly as the Father would and the Spirit would if they were present. Therefore, this interaction gives us a very clear picture into the nature of God as it pertains to His relationship with children.

The texts do not overtly indicate why the disciples refused “them.” It could be that they felt the children and parents were a bother. Or perhaps the children were getting underfoot and they were perturbed by that. However, if you consider vv. 1-12, you get an interesting contrast to vv. 13-16. Notice that v.1 states that crowds were gathering around Jesus and the response was that Jesus began to teach them. That is what He always did. Even some Pharisees came up to Jesus and asked a question in order to pin Him down. No response by the disciples as of yet. When Jesus gets in the house, the disciples then asked for explanation concerning His teaching about divorce. This indicates that, for the most part, the disciples were quiet. However, when the children come, the disciples immediately speak out and rebuke the parents and children. In the next narrative, once again, you see Jesus being approached and asked about spiritual matters from the rich young ruler. The disciples, again, did not have a problem with that. It was only when the children came did they get uptight. Why? We have to be careful to read into the white spaces. However, it is appropriate to pull together the pieces of the puzzle we do have and paint a picture.

Children are not adults. Easy. Children lack all that adults (think they) have attained. Further, children appear to be ignorant oftentimes of even the simplest of facts that we adults understand. We could say that all of this indicates why the disciples rebuked the children. The children have no contribution to the society at large and therefore they are to be ignored. Although I think that most people feel this way, I don’t think that is the issue here, at least as far as Jesus is concerned. For Jesus, and thus in reality, the issue pertained to the relationship of children to the kingdom of God. The disciples’ failure to comprehend this enraged Jesus. This was more than simple displeasure. I believe that this treatment of the children incited fury, albeit under control, in Jesus. Why? Because of the importance of the kingdom of God. How many other things are said to own the kingdom of God?

The children, according to Jesus’ response, are a picture of the kingdom of God in some way. Jesus wanted the children to come to Him because, it appears, they were dear to His heart. But that does not seem to be simply because they were really cute. It appears to be more than that, considering His indignation and rebuke of His disciples.

Next time, we will delve into this further. But for now, just know that children mean more to God than we might think. However, is that the case in your heart? Do you see in children something of the kingdom of God as Jesus did? Or, do you see them as the disciples did, in the way and unimportant? Our view of children may well unveil some interesting things in our hearts.