As we read through the accounts of Jesus’ life, it stands out that he took time for those that most people would not spend time with. We find him having meals with tax collectors and prostitutes, people who were rejected by Jewish society for being considered traitors (working for Rome) or sinners. Yet he also spent time with the religious leaders, talking with them and having meals with them. But one group he seems to have always had time for was children.
“Now people were bringing little children to him for him to touch, but the disciples scolded those who brought them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.’ After he took the children in his arms, he placed his hands on them and blessed them” (Mark 10:13-16 NET).
People were bringing their children to Jesus so that he would touch them. This “touch” would seem to convey the idea of Jesus blessing them (as we see that he did in verse 16). It would seem that they knew that Jesus was a special teacher and wanted their children to meet him and even be blessed by him.
The disciples seemed to think that these people were wasting Jesus’ time – he had more important things to do in healing and teaching! So they scolded the parents who had brought their children to Jesus, obviously telling them to take them away.
When Jesus saw what was going on he was very displeased and annoyed at what his disciples were doing. Rather than sending the children away, he told the disciples to allow the children full access to him because the Kingdom of God belongs to people like these children. We need to receive the kingdom of God like a child or we won’t get into it.
When we think about the qualities a child has that Jesus wants all of his followers to have, two would come quickly to mind. The first would be trust. Little children trust others. They easily believe what others say. Jesus wants those who follow him to have this same trust in him, to believe him and to obey him as a child would. We lose this trust in people as we grow older. We question everything that people tell us. Jesus wants us to regain the ability to trust.
The second quality that a child has goes along with this: children are willing to be dependent on others and receive what others give them. Again, this is something that we lose as we grow older and no longer trust people. We like to think that we can do anything by ourself – we don’t need your help, thanks anyway! Yet being a Christian is about being willing to be dependent on Jesus and on others and being willing to accept what others do for us. We are dependant on Jesus for every spiritual blessing – they are all found in him! We are dependent on God for every good thing we enjoy. And we are dependent on others for their support to help us keep going when life becomes difficult.
If we cannot receive the kingdom like a child, Jesus said that we will never enter it. Let us learn to trust Jesus more and be willing to obey whatever he asks of us, just like a child would do. And let us bring our children to meet Jesus by telling them about him.
Readings for next week:
23 October – Mark 10:32-52
24 October – Mark 11
25 October – Mark 12
26 October – Mark 13
27 October – Mark 14:1-31