Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus blessed these children whose parents sought Him. We need to understand culturally what is occurring here. The laying of hands upon someone in prayer was a way of blessing. It was sought from respected spiritual authority. It was a practice begun with the patriarchs with their sons and in Jesus' day it was a common practice for rabbis to bless families in this manner. The closest parallel in my ministry experience that mirrors this would be a baby or child dedication in which parents bring their children before the church in covenant community asking God's blessing on the family as they raise the child for the glory of God.
Jesus blessed all who came to Him sincerely. And so, coming alongside these parents who sought God's best for their kids, Jesus prays blessings on little children. It was His heart to bless and to give grace and mercy. He laid His healing and helping hands on little heads and prayed for the Father to care for these kids.
The disciples on the other hand had entirely the wrong attitude about this situation. They rebuked parents, perhaps because they saw this practice as a distraction for Jesus. After all, there was teaching to do, crowds to manage, and healings to see to on the way to Jerusalem for the feast. They did not share Jesus' compassion and vision for the importance of the lives of these children. So Jesus rebuked the disciples for their cold apathy, and warmly blessed families in their faithfulness. And the Jesus spoke God's blessings into the littlest of lives. What a magnificent grace is found in my Savior!