The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that each child visit the doctor for a well-child exam eleven times before the age of three and once a year thereafter. In those twenty-seven childhood checkups, the pediatrician will administer immunizations, give recommendations for the child’s nutrition and safety, and monitor growth and development. Whether the little one appears ill or not, the doctor will do everything possible to ensure appropriate physical wellbeing.
In today’s passage, concerned parents bring their children to another kind of doctor: the Great Physician. Sometimes we have thought of this as a serene scene in a storybook. We imagine happy moms and dads posing their babies for a celebrity photo with Jesus. The text doesn’t tell us that these children were sick in any way, so we might think the parents were simply requesting a nice ritual. Not so. While some parents brought their children to Jesus for prayer, many did not. And the ones who did faced the hostility of the disciples who believed that Christ should not be bothered by healthy little kids. But these parents were just as determined as the friends of the paralytic who clawed their way through the roof (Luke 5:17–26) or the father with the demon-possessed son who begged Jesus to heal him (Luke 9:37–43). Following their example, we must be tireless in our efforts to place our children before Jesus. We know that He is the only one who can make them spiritually well, and so we intercede for them against all obstacles.
For His part, Jesus welcomed the little children. He was delighted to place His hands on them and intercede for their young lives. What parent or grandparent or aunt or uncle would not want the same for the children they love?