"Then they brought the little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, 'Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive this kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.' And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them." (Mark 10:13-16).
According to some, it was a tradition for parents to bring their young children to synagogue authorities for the purpose of praying for them. This was done because the prayers of godly men on behalf of others were recognized as a blessing (cf. James 5:16). For these parents to bring their young ones to Jesus for such a purpose indicates their deep respect for Him.
It is likely that the disciples viewed these children being brought to Jesus as an interruption to His teaching. Thus, they probably thought they were doing Jesus a favor by rebuking people they considered to be bothersome at this time. However, they erred in presuming to do that which they had no right to do.
Jesus was "greatly displeased" with the actions of His disciples. No one has the right to forbid anyone from coming to Jesus! "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God" (Mark 10:14). The kingdom of God (i.e., the church) is not literally made up of children, but it is composed of those who are childlike in nature.
Jesus continues in Mark 10:15 - "Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it." It should be noted that receiving God's kingdom is different than entering into it (cf. John 1:12). To enter the kingdom one is first required to receive it as a little child would; that is, he must have trusting faith, humility, and a desire to submit to God's will in obedience. Adults who are consumed with pride, self-righteousness, and rebelliousness have no hope of entering God's kingdom until they turn from such sins and are "converted" (cf. Matt. 18:3,4).
Instead of allowing these families to be sent away, Jesus laid His hands on the little children (which implies that He imparted some sort of blessing upon them). It should be noted that Jesus "took them up in His arms" in order to lay His hands on them. Jesus showed a tenderness that undoubtedly impressed the parents. May parents today realize how precious their children are in God's eyes, and may they labor diligently to bring them up "in the training and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4).
It should be observed that this passage is an appropriate follow-up to Jesus' teaching on divorce. Little children are a constant joy and pleasure to happily married couples. Jesus blessing these children would help correct the disciples' view of the inexpediency of a permanent marriage bond (cf. Matt. 19:10). Seeing these little children in Jesus' arms would certainly leave a good impression regarding married life.