Mark 10:13-16 ( The Message )
The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: "Don't push these children away. Don't ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God's kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you'll never get in." Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them.
Does the image above depict how you see Jesus' relationship with children? It does for for me. In fact when I saw this picture on my friend Lee's homepage I immediately asked her for permission to use it. I didn't know how or when I would want to reprint the picture but I knew that I would. Today is that day.
Yesterday, someone shared the following news story with me and all I could think of was who would tell these children that Jesus has not, would not, never has and never will condone what evil men are doing to them in His name.
Yes. the Old Testament does refer to killing witches but did Jesus?
The next video features churches in Nigeria where innocent children are being labeled as witches in order to extort money from their parents. Evil men presenting them self a preachers of the gospel are by claiming that they can cure children of witchcraft if the parents give to the church.
Matthew 7:15-20 in the Message Bible reads:
"Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don't be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned."
The following is a segment of a video by Internews (http://www.internews.org)/ a group trying to raise awareness of the plight of Congolese children accused of witchcraft. The videos were produced by Angela Nicoara and Mike Ormsby and are part of a project funded by the United States Agency for International Development that trained journalists from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to report on peace talks and social issues.
In Jesus's time there were children who might have been considered by the ignorant to be witches. Here's how He handled it:
Matthew 17:14-20 ( The Message )
With a Mere Kernel of Faith14-16At the bottom of the mountain, they were met by a crowd of waiting people. As they approached, a man came out of the crowd and fell to his knees begging, "Master, have mercy on my son. He goes out of his mind and suffers terribly, falling into seizures. Frequently he is pitched into the fire, other times into the river. I brought him to your disciples, but they could do nothing for him."
17-18Jesus said, "What a generation! No sense of God! No focus to your lives! How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this? Bring the boy here." He ordered the afflicting demon out—and it was out, gone. From that moment on the boy was well.
19When the disciples had Jesus off to themselves, they asked, "Why couldn't we throw it out?"
20"Because you're not yet taking God seriously," said Jesus. "The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, 'Move!' and it would move. There is nothing you wouldn't be able to tackle."
Against false prophets.
a message to these spiritual charlatans.
Matthew 18:2-7 (The Message)
For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, "I'm telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you're not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God's kingdom. What's more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it's the same as receiving me.
"But if you give them a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you'll soon wish you hadn't. You'd be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck. Doom to the world for giving these God-believing children a hard time! Hard times are inevitable, but you don't have to make it worse—and it's doomsday to you if you do.