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Devotional: May 20, 2022

The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them. Mark 10: 13-16 The Message This scriptural scene is one of my favorites. You may have seen an artist’s rendering of it: the painting of Jesus sitting with children on his lap, with other children surrounding him, all with smiles on their faces. Yet while this visual snapshot of Jesus is treasured, how the story unfolds not one of the disciples’ finest moments. Without asking Jesus, the twelve took it upon themselves to shoo children away. Perhaps they thought they were doing the right thing. The disciples had seen crowds clamoring for Jesus’s attention, particularly those in need of Christ’s healing power. They may have recalled Jesus going off to a quiet place, even the wilderness, to pray alone. In their minds, they were protecting Jesus. They were guarding His valuable time and attention, so he could use it for adults who were in need. I would say they were being a bit controlling. None of us likes someone else curbing our freedom, without even asking us. When Jesus saw what the disciples had done, He let them know his displeasure. In fact, he was angered by their actions. He may have understood their thinking, but he also overruled their protective inclinations. Instead of letting his followers shoo off the children, Jesus welcomed the children with open arms. There are several lessons from this event. First, it is tricky to assume you know what someone wants without consulting them. You may be way off base, like this time with the disciples. Second, never get between anyone else and Jesus. While we may need someone to step in on our behalf, especially as we age, that doesn’t excuse the “busybody” actions of the disciples. This story is about helping others form and nurture their relationship with Jesus. Our task as Christ’s followers is to bring people to Him! More than anything, this episode is a good reminder to be humble about our assumptions: thinking we know what might be the better path, when only Jesus knows what is best. These verses also caution against dividing people up, or judging them. The disciples judged children as less valuable in their Lord’s eyes. Wrong! Judgment is not our job. Our job is to welcome people, and to introduce them to Jesus, and His unconditional love. It is a lesson for everyone, from the youngest child, to the oldest person on the face of this planet. “For God so loved the whole world, that He gave his only son, that whosoever believes in Him may not perish, but would have eternal life.” John 3:16 Prayer Lord of all, Forgive me when I make unjustified assumptions, and judge people, like the disciples. Help me to do my part to never block someone from forming a relationship with You. Save me from the temptation to think I know what is best, like the disciples sometimes did. Instead, help me to greet everyone in Your name. I want to be a part of Your welcoming team! I pray this prayer in Your Holy name. Amen.

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*But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.

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