This week our simple Sunday reflection is on Mark 10:13-16 and the story of the disciples acting as body guards against parents sending their children to Jesus to blessed in some way by a touch from the miracle working prophet. This is more than hug therapy – it’s perhaps a desperate need for divine intervention.
Repeatedly in this Gospel, we’ve seen examples of what I’ve called ‘messianic mania’ – the teaching and healing reputation of Jesus causing crowds of people to seek him out.
The Greek here for indignant is strong – he’s really annoyed. Jesus does not want to be protected from ministry needs. The children are not a burden to be escaped. They are to be welcomed and blessed. Healing and wholeness is a foretaste of the kingdom to come. The kingdom is for all, especially the apparently unimportant.
And in typical style, Jesus takes the opportunity to create a teaching moment. His mission is to proclaim the arrival of the good news of the kingdom of God. This kingdom is bound up with the Jesus, God’s annointed servant. To enter the kingdom is to align yourself with the Messiah. It is not so much that children have simple child-like trusting faith (though many take this passage to mean this), but that entering the kingdom means giving up your adult rights of autonomy and self-determination, to become a disciple, a follower, of the man from Nazareth.
There can be few things more challenging (and insulting) to our modern minds than to be told we can only enter the kingdom of God by accepting the invitation of the King to ‘lose’ our lives, become learners, and admit that we can’t enter by our own achievements or status or efforts. Lord, help us to put aside our pride and come freely to you like little children to receive your blessing, acceptance and welcoming arms.
The Little Children and Jesus
13People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.