So They Brought Their Little Children by Elspeth Young

So They Brought Their Little Children

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And it came to pass that he 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 Jesus stood in the midst; and the multitude gave way till they had all been brought unto him...

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 Nephi 17:11-13, 21-25

The story behind So They Brought Their Little Children

After His death and resurrection, the Savior appeared to the Nephite and Lamanite peoples in the Americas.  He taught the people; ordained disciples who could baptize and administer other ordinances in His behalf; instructed them in His doctrine and law; allowed every man, woman, and child present to feel the wounds in His hands, feet, and side; and healed their sick and afflicted.  In the midst of these marvelous manifestations of His perfect love and His power to heal, He invited the multitude to bring their little children to be gathered around Him, and blessed those children and prayed to the Father for them.

Prior to the appearance of the Messiah, these little ones had witnessed great tragedy, darkness, and despair.  They had experienced fierce tempests, fires, flooding, and earthquakes such as "never had been known in all the land" (2 Nephi 8:5).  The nightmare of these destructions had lasted for three or more hours, and had been followed by impenetrable darkness that lasted for three days; a darkness punctuated by the terrifying cries of survivors whose loved ones had perished and who feared for their own lives (see 3 Nephi 8-11).

Speaking about these three days of cataclysm and misery, Margaret Lifferth observed:  "I have often thought about the children who experienced these events. And I can only imagine the fear and concern in the hearts of the parents....How eager those parents must have been to bring their children to the Savior. And then they watched as the Savior wept over their children, blessed them one by one, prayed unto the Father for them, and called down angels to minister unto them (see 3 Nephi 17:21, 24). This account reminds us that it is the Savior who is the great protector, the ultimate teacher, and the eternal source of love and healing" (Margaret S. Lifferth, "Behold Your Little Ones," October 2006 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).

And so, the young mother in this painting brings her child to the Savior.  The Messiah does not appear in person in the painting, but as the young one stretches forth her hand toward Him, the radiance of His countenance encircles her in hope and healing.

Symbolism in So They Brought Their Little Children

When speaking of how we, too, can bring our children to the Savior, Cheryl C. Lant explains:  "Christ's invitation to seek Him is an invitation to know who He is, what He has done for us, and what He has asked us to do. Coming to Christ, and eventually seeing His face, comes only as we draw close to Him through our faith and our actions....It is our sacred responsibility as parents and leaders of this rising generation of children to bring them to the Savior so that they might see His face and the face of our Father in Heaven as well" (Cheryl C. Lant, "That Our Children Might See the Face of the Savior," April 2010 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). Significantly, the fear and darkness experienced by these children prepared them for the light and testimony they would receive.  In contrast to the destruction they had witnessed, they were blessed to hear the voice of the Father and the Son, to hear and see first-hand the testimony of the Son's divine identity and mission, and to experience His healing power.  Similarly, the challenges and struggles of our own lives prepare us for the beauty and majesty of peace and truth.

Just as the young mother holds her child in her arms within the painting, so, too, do parents, leaders, teachers, and family members, hold the seeds of their children's faith and potential in their hands.  By precept and by example we bring them to the Savior's feet and point their souls to Him.  M. Russell Ballard made this analogy clear when he said:  "Those of us who have been entrusted with precious children have been given a sacred, noble stewardship, for we are the ones God has appointed to encircle today's children with love and the fire of faith and an understanding of who they are" (M. Russell Ballard, "Great Shall Be the Peace of thy Children," April 1994 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).

The young one's earnest reaching for the Messiah also symbolizes the need for all mankind to "repent, and be baptized in [the Savior's] name, and become as a little child" (3 Nephi 11:38), for every soul is invited to reach for the Redeemer and "be converted, and become as little children [to] enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3).

Curatorial Details

The panel is Masonite. Several gesso layers were applied directly to the panel. The gesso was manufactured by Utrecht Mfg. Corp., 6 Corporate Dr., Cranbury, New Jersey 08512 USA. Oil paints used in the creation of this painting include Rembrandt colors manufactured by Royal Talens, P.O. Box 4, Apeldoorn, Holland; M. Graham & Co., West Linn, Oregon 97068 USA; and Gamblin Artists Colors, PO Box 15009, Portland, Oregon 97293 USA. The medium used was Walnut Alkyd Medium, also manufactured by M. Graham & Co. The painting is coated with Cold Wax Medium (beeswax), also manufactured by Gamblin.
© By Elspeth Young, All Rights Reserved. You may not print, copy, or reproduce this artwork or make derivative works from it without the prior written consent of the copyright holder. For permissions, please review our FAQ page.

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Illustration: So They Brought Their Little Children

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