Little Children = Mark 10:13-16
Bible Background: Jesus has just addressed religious folks on the subject of divorce and marriage, and has pointed out their ‘hardness of heart’. In this scene, parents bring little ones to Jesus for a blessing and the disciples try to send them away. Jesus says “bring them!”
Digging Deeper: 1 Children in ancient times were seen as a blessing from God. They were also seen as a liability and an insurance policy (i.e. another mouth to feed; but one day we’ll depend on them to take care of us.) Perhaps half of children did not live to adulthood back then. So children were among the “least of these”.
2. Parents were bringing children to Jesus so that he might touch them. The word “touch” in the Greek is often translated “heal”, so these children may be sick and filthy, needing healing. The disciples don’t see them as important-Jesus does!
3. This is the 2nd time in two chapters that Jesus has to correct the disciples’ thinking. He speaks to them sternly! He says “do not stop these parents/children, for to such as these belongs the kingdom of God.” Instantly Jesus has given attention and status to these little ones and their parents.
4. “Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, will never enter it.” This is not implying that those who are not baptized as babies are out of luck. Not at all. It seems more a statement about those who have the trust, and innocence, and eagerness of a child vs. those who are sure they know how God works and how to please God.
5. Jesus takes them in his arms, puts his hands on them, and blesses them! Artists make this into a beautiful scene: with a gentle Jesus and happy kids. But what if these were squirmy, snot-nosed, under-nourished children? How would that change the picture? Would it remind us how Jesus really did reach out to the poor and how he welcomed the least of these? Would it remind us how we are to do the same?
6. One of the things Worship Committee and Council are discussing is “how to be more welcoming of kids (and their parents) in worship?” We’re going to move a few pews and experiment with a kids’ space, in the sanctuary, where a one or two or three year old can be a 1, 2, or 3 year old, and not have to sit in a pew like an adult. We know some of our parents hesitate to bring a squirmy child to worship (even though we have a Cry Room). Let’s see if this helps! The church is not the church, and worship is not worship without the presence of all God’s children, from 0 to 100!