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Jesus here reiterates his teaching in 18:1-6, which his disciples have apparently forgotten (compare again 21:15). Like their culture, they think "children should be seen and not heard." Children were low-status dependents; they had to trust adults and receive what they provided (compare Best 1976:133-34). Disciples did not want their teacher interrupted (2 Kings 4:27; Diog. Laert. 7.7.182), and Jesus' disciples did not want these children, low in status, to deter Jesus from more important matters (Mt 19:13).
Later, lest Jesus be delayed in his mission to Jerusalem, crowds tried to silence blind beggars (20:31). It seems that in both 19:13 and 20:31, as in the parallel passages in Mark, disciples and crowds alike fail to understand what Jesus' kingdom is really about-caring for the weakest, rather than engaging in political or military triumphalism.