From the Mouths of Children

“children shouting in the temple courts” (Matthew 21:15)
Image: Unknown artist and origin (Source)

Have you ever heard a child say something surprisingly profound? We adults have a saying for that: “from the mouths of children” or “from the mouths of babes.”

For example, when our six year-old Annie wants to “cheers” to something, she proclaims, “To the life of God!” We have no idea where she got that from, but that’s what she says and we love it. Likewise, when her three year-old brother David prays for meals, he simply says, “Thank you for the God.” Sure, that might sound theologically ambiguous at first glance. But I think he means, “Thank you for you, God.” And I’ll take it. In fact, I need it. I need to hear children express worship to God because I think they do it a lot better than us adults.

Jesus said so himself. We get the phrase, “from the mouths of babes,” first from the Psalms (chapter 8, verse 2) and then reiterated by Jesus in Matthew 21:16:

“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,

“‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”

Jesus was defending the children who were “shouting” in the temple after Jesus had dramatically turned over the tables of the moneychangers. You see, the children had been parading with their palm branches and shouting “Hosanna” to Jesus (the triumphal entry, which we celebrate at Palm Sunday). And they continued their procession into the temple as Jesus was clearing it out. That way, when Jesus was done clearing the temple, the children were still making noise and it bothered the chief priests. That’s when we hear Jesus quote the Psalmist in defense of the children.

This passage encourages me and reminds me to let the children praise (in the way that God made them to do so). It also reminds me to listen to the children and what they say/sing/pray when they worship God. Perhaps that is God’s way of speaking to me. 

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Dr. Jesse Joyner travels nationwide as a speaker and entertainer. His primary role is that of a performing juggler spreading joy and the love of learning to family and kids events. H earned his PhD in Educational Studies at Trinity International University (Deerfield, IL). He enjoys playing the piano, bird watching, and old houses. He lives in Richmond, VA with his wife, Sarah, and their three kids - the perfect number for juggling children.