“Behold Your Little Ones”


“Behold Your Little Ones”

Accounts of the Lord Jesus Christ with little children in the Old World and in the New World are inspiring. They teach us how we should regard little ones. Following is a selection of art featuring Jesus with little children, a favorite topic of many artists.

“The disciples [came] unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

“And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,

“And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

“Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

“And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:1–6).

In the New World, Jesus “commanded that their little children should be brought.

“So they brought their little children and set them down upon the ground round about him. …

“And … he himself also knelt upon the earth; and behold he prayed unto the Father, and the things which he prayed cannot be written. …

“[Then] he wept, and the multitude bare record of it, and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them.

“And when he had done this he wept again;

“And he spake unto the multitude, and said unto them: Behold your little ones.

“And as they looked to behold they cast their eyes towards heaven, and they saw the heavens open, and they saw angels descending out of heaven as it were in the midst of fire; and they came down and encircled those little ones about, and they were encircled about with fire; and the angels did minister unto them.

“And the multitude did see and hear and bear record; and they know that their record is true for they all of them did see and hear, every man for himself; and they were in number about two thousand and five hundred souls; and they did consist of men, women, and children” (3 Ne. 17:11–12, 15, 21–25).

The theme of Christ and little children is memorably referenced in King Benjamin’s text on the special nature of children:

“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19).

In these latter days the Lord has said:

“And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.

“For this shall be a law unto the inhabitants of Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized.

“And their children shall be baptized for the remission of sins when eight years old, and receive the laying on of the hands.

“And they shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord” (D&C 68:25–27).

Of scriptural references to the state of childlike purity there is almost no end:

“Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God.

“And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers.

“But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth” (D&C 93:38–40).

[illustration] Detail from Jesus Blessing the Children, by Isaac Loren Covington

[illustration] Christ Blessing the Nephite Children, by Ted Henninger

[illustration] “Behold Your Little Ones,” Olinda Reynolds, courtesy of Church Museum of History and Art

[illustration] Behold I Am Jesus Christ, by Ronald Crosby, © artist and Deseret Book Company

[illustration] As a Little Child, by Lynn Farrar

[illustration] I Wonder When He Comes Again, by Nancy Seamons Crookston

[illustration] Come unto Me, by W. B. Kirkpatrick