Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What did Jesus Mean when he Spoke of Offenses Against Little Children?

All of us know that offences against anyone, regardless of age, is a sin. And all can appreciate that any self-serving act against someone not capable of defending themselves is poor behavior, at best. Even if this is only done by someone cheating someone who is too ignorant to understand.

Yet Christ stated the following to his disciples _

"And he took a child, and set him in the middle of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said to them, Whoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receives me: and whosoever shall receive me, receives not me, but him that sent me." Mark 9:36-37

Does this mean that we have special rewards for receiving children?

Jesus goes on some verses later to say _

"And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea." Mark 9:42

So does this mean we get greater condemnation for acts against children? And what if the child doesn't believe in him? Can a little child of one-year-old truly have a testimony of Christ? Can even a 5-year-old; having never experienced the atonement of Christ?

Yet between these verses we have this statement _

"For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because you belong to Christ, verily I say to you, he shall not lose his reward." Mark 9:41

Having said this he then mentioned about having a milstone hung about his neck to those who offend against such.

I have often heard people quote these Scriptures out of context. In fact I've almost always heard it quoted out of context. To understand it requires examination and an understanding of how Jesus spoke to his disciples.

He is saying that those who accept the gospel are as little children. Then he is likening the disciples to little ones. In other words he is not speaking of real little children who accept him but those with a pure child's heart.

"Then said he to the disciples, It is impossible that offences will not come: but woe to him, through whom they come! it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones." Luke 17:1-2

Here he is speaking of millstones being hung around the neck of anyone making offenses against these little ones. Yet on this occasion there is no mention of him having any real children present.

When speaking to his disciples alone Jesus said _

"Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You shall seek me: and as I said to the Jews, Where I go, you cannot come; so now I say to you." John 13:33

Again he has demonstrated that when he talks of "little children" he is meaning no reference to real children. Also note that there is not one commandment in all the Law given to Moses that made greater penalties for acts against real children. God will preserve the righteous in most circumstances.