February 17, 2021
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 story reminds me of a time when I was an Associate Pastor in Ellensburg. Our son Jonathan was about two and a half at the time. The church had two services. After the first service, Jeana was in the fellowship hall, as the second service began. Jonathan was with her, but he saw me up in front of the church. Before she could catch him, he was running down the aisle towards me with his arms up, saying, “Daddy”. The Senior Pastor, Don Meekhof, did not stand up and reprimand me, or Jonathan, or Jeana. Rather he stood and said, “Isn’t this the way we should all be running towards our Heavenly Father?”
This picture from scripture of Jesus embracing the children is a wonderful image. It may well be the inspiration behind the beloved song, “Jesus loves me”. Jesus’ affection and enthusiasm for children is obvious in this passage. He did not consider himself above them. Nor did he think he was too busy, or too important for them. No! He embraced them. Jesus embraces not only children, but also adults. If there is any doubt in your mind about whether Jesus would embrace you, let this passage remind you of His unconditional love.
Meanwhile, the disciples in this passage are not portrayed in the best light. Perhaps they mistakenly thought that Jesus was too busy for the likes of children. Maybe it was the general cultural perspective of children. For whatever reason, they took it upon themselves to shoo the children away from Jesus.
How did Jesus respond? By sternly telling them to knock it off. “Don’t ever push these children away!” While we may fault the disciples, far too often some churches have fallen into this “shoo away” pattern of behavior. They have bought into the Victorian era mentality that “children should be seen, but not heard”. While Jesus does not love everything we do (sin, especially!), we need to remember that He loves everyone, both the young and the old.
The Gospel writer Mark wants to leave us with the image of Jesus offering a blessing to the children. Where the disciples wanted to give children the brush-off, Jesus offered them a blessing. The disciples wanted to limit God’s love. Jesus wants to lavish His love upon the littlest, and the least.
This day, celebrate Jesus’ love for children, and for you! Don’t ever let anyone try to “shoo you away” from Him. He loves you. Rejoice in His embrace!
Lord, You are the Father to all generations of all ages. You do not shun me when I have sinned. Thank You for giving me all of Your attention, all the time. Forgive me if I turn away from others, and perceive them as unworthy. Help me to pass on this same unconditional love to others.
Thankfully I pray this prayer in the name of the One who is love, Your son and my Savior Jesus Christ, Amen