While there are a lot of books about parenting in print, and while many are very, very helpful (Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp being one of my favorites), there is one place to look for child-rearing wisdom that is most important: the Bible. What does Jesus say about the importance of raising children? Of course, He stands behind all of Scripture, but it can be encouraging to parents in the trenches of late-night feedings, discipline struggles, and sibling rivalries to know that what we do matters. Let us meditate on Jesus’ encounters with and teachings about little children when He was here on Earth.

And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” – Matthew 10:42

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. – Matthew 11:25-26

And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. – Matthew 18:2-6 

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 18:10

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.” – Matthew 19:13-14 

But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” – Matthew 21:15-16 

And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” – Mark 9:36-37

And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. – Mark 10:13-16

An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.” – Luke: 9:46-48

Lindsey M. Roberts is the editor of the All About Jesus blog. After seven years in secular journalism, she is thrilled to explore how everything—even doing the dishes—is an opportunity to meet and glorify God. Lindsey lives with her husband and newborn son in Virginia.

“This guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, ‘Doc, my brother’s crazy! He thinks he’s a chicken.’ The doctor says, ‘Well, why don’t you turn him in?’ Then the guy says, ‘I would but I need the eggs.’ … I guess that’s pretty much how I feel about relationships. They’re totally irrational, and crazy, and absurd, but I guess we keep going through it because most of us need the eggs.” – Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) from the film Annie Hall

Woody Allen concludes his Oscar winning film Annie Hall with this funny yet ironic joke.  With Manhattan as its backdrop, the movie explores the nature of human relationships.  Under the comedic veneer, Allen’s observant joke has an element of truth.  We do “need the eggs.”

Of course, this sounds somewhat cryptic.  What do eggs have to do with relationships?

All human beings have a built-in desire to have meaningful relationships of all varieties – friendship, family, romantic, etc. In fact, we were originally created to have perfect relationships with each other and with God. But the rebellion of man against God left a chasm, not only between God and man, but also between person-to-person relationships.  Feeling dissatisfied we pursue all sorts of relationships, hoping to fill the void. Childhood best friends, spouses, and next-door neighbors have all left us wanting for more.

This doesn’t mean that we don’t have good times with other people. We do! Yet all of our relationships have messy moments because of our sinful natures.

So why don’t we head for the hills and live like hermits?

Because God designed us to “not be alone.” And that will never change.  Despite the fact that Woody Allen has said he doesn’t believe in God, he still can’t stop doing what God has designed him to do. He desperately craves and continues to search for meaningful relationships. We all do.

The good news is that Jesus came to redeem and restore broken relationships.

First and foremost, He came to redeem and restore our broken relationship with our Heavenly Father. Followers of Jesus are given new hearts so they can once again commune with God. They are forgiven of their sins and given Christ’s righteousness. Through prayer and reading God’s word, Christians can boldly come before the Father and trust that our sin no longer is keeping us separated.

Secondly, as Jesus begins to make us more like Him, He redeems and restores our broken relationships with each other. Jesus was our perfect example. He demonstrated his power and grace as he healed the blind, raised the dead, and spoke powerful words of truth and life. Of course He also humbled Himself by becoming a human as well as washing the dirty feet of his followers. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and by Christ’s example, we are able to love and serve our neighbors and our enemies. We no longer idolize people that lead to shattered hopes and bitter hearts. We desire to “love one another as Christ has loved us.” (John 13:34-35) We desire to “serve one another humbly in love.” (Galatians 5:12-14)

If you believe Christians always love perfectly, think again.  We unfortunately still live in bodies that are corrupted by sin, however, when we fail to love our spouses, children, bosses, etc., we can always ask God and the one we wronged for forgiveness. Grace covers a multitude of sins!

Just before Annie Hall fades to black, we see Allen’s character hugging his ex-lover goodbye.  As she walks away into the endless sea of people in New York City, Allen watches as we hear him tell the joke about “needing the eggs.”  He understands the need, but he has no idea about how to make the relationship work.  But thankfully Jesus came and proclaimed the simple answer:  “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27)