What Matthew 19:14 Means (let the little children come to me)

Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’ Matthew 19:14

This is a powerful verse that reveals God’s heart for children. But more than that, the Matthew 19:14 meaning challenges us in how we live out our faith. This brief interaction has a lot to teach us. 

In this post, we are going to take a closer look at this interaction. And I believe you will walk away challenged and encouraged. 

The Context Of Matthew 19:14 

To understand the Matthew 19:14 meaning we need to first back up and look at the context. This will help us better understand and apply this verse to our lives. 

In Matthew 19 we see the Pharisees approach Jesus amid a large crowd and ask him a question to trap him (Matthew 19:3). They want to know if it’s lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason. But they aren’t really interested in his answer; they just want Jesus to trip up so they can arrest him. 

Of course, Jesus answers brilliantly and answers some follow-up questions from both the Pharisees and the disciples (Matthew 19:4-12). 

Once Jesus is done teaching, people within the crowd start bringing him little children to be healed. Jesus lays his hands on them and prays for them (Matthew 19:13). This must have been an incredible moment for the families as Jesus’ full power is on display. But the disciples aren’t having it; they rebuke the people for bringing their kids to Jesus. 

Now, the disciples’ motives are probably good. They want to protect Jesus and they know that time is valuable and the kids are distracting others from hearing Jesus’ teachings. But they are missing what is truly important.

In Matthew 19:14 we see Jesus’ response to the disciples stopping these kids from coming to him. 

The Matthew 19:14 Meaning 

Let’s take a closer look at the meaning of Matthew 19:14. 

Let The Little Children Come To Me 

In response to the disciples turning away the kids, Jesus steps in and says, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them.” 

What we have translated as “do not hinder” is mē kōlyete in Greek which means “get out of the way.” Jesus is angry and the disciples should have known better. Jesus has already taught them the importance of children in the kingdom of God (Matthew 18:1-5). And here he reiterates, children are valuable to him. 

The picture we see here is that of Jesus scooping these children in his arms and praying for them. It’s a tender scene that reveals Jesus’ heart and shows that children have a special place in the kingdom of heaven. 

For The Kingdom Of Heaven Belongs To Such As These

This brief moment isn’t over yet. Jesus doesn’t just demand that the children be allowed to come to him, he makes this bold statement: “For the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 

Mark Moore in The Chronological Life Of Christ says this: “They are models for kingdom citizens, not because they are gullible and weak. They are model citizens because (a) they are humble, (b) they do not seek rank or position, and (c) they freely recognize their need for help.” 

The disciples are not to hinder these children because they are valuable citizens of heaven. Not only are they valuable, but they embody qualities that all followers of Jesus must possess. 

How Matthew 19:14 Applies To Your Life 

Let’s end by looking at how Jesus’ command to “Let the little children come to me” applies to our lives today. 

When the disciples made it difficult for children to come to him he rebuked them. In doing so he reveals his heart for children and his desire for all to come to him. 

I think this is a lesson we need today. Many in the church have a similar attitude to the disciples; we make it hard for people to come to Jesus. Whether it be kids or “outsiders” we create barriers that Jesus wants us to tear down. The first lesson we can pull from Matthew 19:14 is to not make it difficult for people to come to Jesus.

The second lesson we can learn is to take on childlike faith. Children show complete trust and dependence on their parents to provide for them. Similarly, Christians should display the same kind of trust in their heavenly father. 

Trust in God when you are in need, scared, sad, or feel lost. God loves his children and will provide for them. So go to him. Having childlike faith means that we turn to God and trust in his provision.

Now check out: What “Train Up A Child In The Way He Should Go” REALLY Means (Proverbs 22:6 Meaning)

Jeffery Curtis Poor
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