What Should We Listen To “From the Mouths of Babes”?

Today is Palm Sunday, marking Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem at the beginning of Passover. It marks the beginning of Holy Week, Jesus’ final ministry, the Last Supper, His passion, crucifixion, and Resurrection. 

It also kicks off the season of “Muslims bombing churches in the Middle East,” but I digress. 

Maybe I should write about this instead of my intended topic–after all, we’re suddenly beating the war drums over Syria because the President was supposedly swayed by his daughter’s heartbreak over the latest gas attack. What about this? This, also, has been going on for years. Is it the type of weapon deployed that makes the difference here?

Yeah, I’m heated. 

But this does tie into what I wanted to write about in a way. 

According to Matthew, as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and the people spread palms and their garments on the ground as though he were their king, the children in the Temple cried out, “Hosanna to the son of David!”

Indignant, the chief priests and scribes asked Christ if He heard, and to which He responded,

“[H]ave you never read, ‘Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, you have brought perfect praise’?”

This has entered the culture as the saying, “From the mouth of babes,” denoting that children have some kind of wisdom to offer. 

So what gives? What does this mean? When do we listen to children? Even adult ones?

As always, context is key. Jesus’ quotation of  Psalm is not a blanket call for New-Age, hippy, “Listen to the children!” nonsense. That is ahistorical and counter to any established belief in the roots of wisdom. 

No, what Jesus reiterates here is that the purity of children as they offer praise to God is what should be noted. 

In this context, children are free from the filters of cynicism that plague so many of us adults who have a more nuanced–some would say jaundiced–view of the world. 

And children have this same innocence with regard to other things. But this doesn’t mean that they have wisdom in it. 

Scripture is clear in what it means here, given its words and context. We just have a tendency to misinterpret and misapply. 

So was the President relying on a similar sentiment here, if the stories are to be believed? I highly doubt that Biblical principles factored into any of this decision making. Also, his daughter is, like me, thirty-five years old. 

But let’s not get carried away with our youth obsession. And let’s also remember that God ultimately rules all, as the Easter season reminds us. 

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