In most of Canada five decades ago, fathers were not allowed into the delivery room to witness their child being born. Being of a persistent mindset, I took the time to persuade our doctor to allow me into the delivery room for the births of my oldest sons.
Then, as I sought to be a faithful father, I took my turns at feeding and changing my children. In those days many men did not think it "manly" to engage in "mothers' work". So, seeking to maintain esteem in my friends’ eyes, I did not tell them about how much I enjoyed caring for my infant children.
Now, society—or should I say, men in particular—see value in bonding with their children by doing their share of duty in the nursery and feeding their children. I am happy to report that my sons' followed my example and assisted with the duties of caring for their children.
Jesus broke the convention of the day by taking infants into His arms and blessing them and praying for them. Typical of the mentality of the time, our Lord's disciples had thought children of little value and they did not wish Jesus to be disturbed by them. The only time that men were known to take up children and bless them in our Lord's time was on the Day of Atonement when the elders would perform this ceremony.
In Mark 9:35-37 the disciples had been taught by Jesus about the worth of small children, even infants. There He took a child and gently gathered it into His arms and used the child as an object lesson on who was truly important in the Kingdom of God.
Sadly the disciples had not learned the lesson for our verses tell us of how they turned little children away from Jesus. In Luke the word for "infant" in this scene means the smallest of children. The same word is also used by Luke in chapter 1:45 where Luke speaks of the "infant" John the Baptist still in his mother's womb.
Our verses today speak of Jesus taking the children one by one into His arms to bless them. We even read of how "indignant" our Lord was at the disciples for rejecting such a small, helpless, unimportant, unnoticed member of society.
Once again our Lord turns the thinking of the disciples upside down by declaring how precious, how loved, how important such helpless ones are to Him and His Father. So as we look at members of society who cannot provide for themselves, who cannot defend themselves, who cannot make any "significant" contribution to society—remember Jesus loves them and wants us to do the same. We should receive, bless and pray for such children—yes and any person who is dependent on others for their daily needs.
"The kingdom of God belongs to such as these."