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The Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel’s Messiah, Part 15: Matthew 18:21-20:34, by Kevin M. Williams

Clearly Yeshua does not talk down marriage. His response to the disciples was, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given” (Matthew 19:11). What should not be missed is, for once, the disciples got something right! They had been paying attention and reached the correct conclusion. This was not a common occurrence.

Yet Yeshua’s reaction still fell very highly in favor of those men who wish to marry. The implication is, few would accept their conclusion, and that should be left well enough alone. There was no command, as some sects today teach, for celibacy. But there certainly was room made for singles.

Lest the disciples’ heads swell too much, their discernment quickly evaporated.

Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” And after laying His hands on them, He departed from there” (Matthew 19:13-15).

Only a short while ago, in Matthew 18:2-10, Yeshua had called a child to himself and said, “And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me” (Matthew 18:5). If the disciples had been listening to what Yeshua had to say about marriage, they had forgotten what he had said about children.

The practice of “laying on hands” is deeply rooted in the Jewish culture, both then and now. The act of touching another person is significant, and forms a physical and spiritual connection. Readers of the gospels will note that when Yeshua encounters the “lepers” he touches them. Forming a human connection was and is a healthy spiritual principle. The laying on of hands by a rabbi was considered a special blessing. When a boy of 13 participates in his bar mitzvah (son of the good deeds) celebration, the rabbi, often along with the elders of the congregation and the boy’s father, will lay their hands on the young man and pray blessings upon him, for health, for prosperity, for spiritual purity, for a wife, and for a long life. They envision a positive future for the child and speak words of life into his life. The intimate contact and importance of the child is demonstrated through the laying on of hands.

Jesus was not simply communicating a spiritual lesson to the crowds. If He was, He could have done so by simply placing one child in the center of the group as He did on another occasion (Matthew 18:2). Jesus was demonstrating His knowledge of a child’s genuine need.4

“Meaningful touch was an essential element in bestowing the blessing in Old Testament homes,” say Gary Smalley and John Trent in their book The Blessing.5 They comment that large percentage of children today, particularly girls have never had a meaningful touch from their father once they reach elementary school age. Sadly, our western society as a whole frowns on healthy touching even among adults, that is to say, touching that is not sexual in nature. For many singles in a congregation, no one takes the time to hug them and they exist entirely without human contact. Physical contact is a love language, but it is a language our society is forgetting.

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Category: Biblical Studies, Fall 2004, Pneuma Review

About the Author: Kevin M. Williams, Litt.D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987 and has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.

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