In the hearts and minds of children, Jesus often takes one of two forms: the serene baby cradled in a manger or the compassionate man whose arms stretch wide upon the cross. These images resonate deeply during Christmas and Easter, yet there’s an aspect of Christ’s life that we sometimes overlook, an aspect that can profoundly influence the spiritual upbringing of our children: Jesus was once a child, too.
Navigating the intricate maze of childhood is a journey of dos, don’ts, and daily discoveries. From mastering the art of sharing to the uphill battle of self-control, our little ones are constantly learning the ropes of what it means to be human—and what it means to be holy. We strive to instill in them the wisdom to discern right from wrong, but we also acknowledge that perfection is unattainable on this side of heaven.
The tender years of childhood are often punctuated by both innocence and insubordination. Tiny fists sometimes find their siblings, harsh words escape lips that were, moments ago, curved in a smile, and the all-too-familiar shadows of blame and shame begin to cloud their young hearts. These moments of failure, however crucial to their moral development, also unveil their innate need for grace, understanding, and, above all, for a Savior.
Herein lies the profound beauty of Christ’s childhood. Jesus arrived in this world not as a mighty ruler, but as an infant. His first cries echoed within the walls of a humble stable, and He, like our children, progressed through every stage of human development. In His humanity, Jesus embraced childhood, embodying perfection where we falter, fulfilling the law where we fall short, and extending His righteous hand to lift us from our failings.
When our children’s faces crumple in frustration, their spirits dampened by their shortcomings, we have an extraordinary truth to share with them. “You’re right, you’re not perfect, and that’s okay. Do you know why? Because Jesus was a child just like you, and He was perfect for you!” This revelation doesn’t serve as an excuse for their missteps but rather as a beacon of hope illuminating their path forward.
By understanding that Jesus walked the very path they tread, our children can find solace in His empathy. He knows their struggles, their temptations, and their pains (Hebrews 4:15). And He left behind the Holy Spirit, a Helper who guides, comforts, and empowers them to follow in Jesus’ footsteps (John 15:26–27; Romans 8:10–11).
Moreover, childhood, with its inherent dependency and openness, holds a sacred space within Christian doctrine. Jesus Himself declared that the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these, to those who exhibit childlike faith (Mark 10:13–16; Matthew 18:2–5). Perhaps, then, our children are uniquely positioned to grasp the essence of spiritual life. Their daily dependence, their ease in seeking help, mirrors the very heart of a faith-filled life.
As parents, educators, and mentors, we are bestowed with the blessed responsibility to paint a complete picture of Jesus for our young ones. In recognizing Jesus’ childhood, we allow our children to see that they are never alone in their journey. They have a Friend who has ventured the very same valleys, a Savior who meets them in their moments of need, and a Guide who leads the way with footsteps marked by grace and love.
So, let us celebrate the child Jesus, embracing His life as a profound testament to the love and humility of our God. In His becoming a child, we find the strength to raise our own children, guiding them into the loving arms of the Father, through the grace of the Son, and with the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Thanks be to Christ, who became as one of the little ones, that we and our children might forever be welcomed as children of God.