“But when Jesus saw it, He was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.'” Mark 10:14
If there is one story that has impacted my life more than any other story in the world, this is that story. These are my first thoughts and memories of You, Jesus. The day I heard this story was the day I started to understand who You are. I didn’t totally get it yet, but the day I heard this, was the day that You imprinted Your love in my heart, and over the years, I couldn’t shake it and it couldn’t be shaken.
I don’t have any memories of church or hearing about You, Jesus, until I turned about five years old. And we started attending a small Lutheran church and I attended the Lutheran elementary school. It’s funny how most of my memories start at this point in life. There is this richness of thinking on You and meditating on You as a small child. Of peacefully soaking in the stained glass picture on the church wall where the Good Shepherd was gathering the children to Him. Then there’s the memory of Christmas and laying on the pew and soaking in the love of Jesus and knowing it was just good and right to be near You and that You thought it was good to be near me. I think I could breathe in Your goodness and love. Funny thing was that I never thought I had to do anything to receive it. Jesus loved me. Period. I could just basque in that love. I was welcome to receive it. I was welcome to live in it.
So how do we lose that as we grow older? How do we forget what we once knew? Or is it maybe that we get hindered when held back from the full truth?
Now, here You are Jesus, teaching other adults Your way, Your thinking, God’s thinking. And this group of parents comes to bring their children to you so that You could just touch them, so You could bless them. Who knows, maybe some of them needed healing. But don’t we all need to be touched by You? And as they come near, the disciples set up a roadblock, what You called a hindrance. They rebuked the parents. I think that meant they forbid them and probably gave them a piece of their mind. But that’s just it. They were giving a piece of their mind and not of Christ’s mind. And Jesus, You wound up correcting Your disciples.
Now, I don’t think this was gentle correction. The disciples were making You appear, Lord, as someone You are not. That’s a big deal. And Scripture tells me that You were “much displeased.” You didn’t just say, “Oh, cut it out, Guys. Just let me see them.” Absolutely not. Your “displeasure” is expressed with the Greek word “aganakteo.” It signifies “much grief,” being “greatly affflicted,” “indignant.” Now, what does “indignant” really mean? It means “anger or extreme anger, mingled with contempt, disgust or abhorrence.” Whoa! That’s pretty strong, isn’t it, Lord? This is the same way that Haman felt about Mordecai. Only Your indignation is righteous and well-deserved.
What’s the problem with turning the kids away? Maybe the problem lies in our thinking that we have the capability to judge who is ready to come to the Lord and who is not? How can I ever know that? How do I know that drunk person can’t hear something from God even in the midst of his drunkenness? How do I know that the obnoxious teen in the back isn’t being touched even though I can’t see it? How do I know that these children won’t understand and be impacted?
“Let these vulnerable little ones come to me. They don’t have to offer me anything. I have everything they need. Same as you. What can you offer me? Come unto Me. Let them come. Don’t get in the way of anyone who wants to come, of anyone who is coming.” For “of such is the kingdom of God.” Now, I have to stop there. “Of such.” What does that mean? Is that just that we have to be like a little child in trusting faith? Or is something more going on here? What if “of such” is referring to the whole situation?
What was the whole situation? Parents were advocating before God for their children. Here were their children, too weak and small and unnoticed to get to Jesus on their own. So what did they do? They wanted their children to come near to this Jesus who was close to God. They wanted their children to experience this. Why? They wanted their children to draw close to God even if they didn’t realize yet who You, Jesus, wholly were. But they knew You were a man of God. And they were doing what You call parents to do, drawing their children near You. And the disciples were hindering not only the children, but the parents’ God ordained function in the family. They were breaking down God’s design for discipleship. They were standing in the face of God’s design for spiritual growth, for strengthening the weak and helpless.
Now, I didn’t come to think this because I read Skip Moen’s blog today. First I thought about it with You, Lord, and then I searched about it. But I have to admit, I love how Skip expressed it. “These are not just any kind of children. These are children who carry a critically important role. They are representatives of God’s plan for communicating the covenant. Their status – dependent, unimportant and vulnerable – represents all of those who would enter into the covenant. No one comes to God carrying a glowing resume. We come dragging life’s ashes. We come without self-sufficiency, or we do not come at all. God’s plan was always to use the family to bring His grace to those who were most vulnerable. The enemy goes after the powerful, holding them up as icons of human success. God looks the other way, to the ones who gently rest in His sufficiency, who think nothing of tomorrow because they want to play today.”
Isn’t this what the family of God is supposed to be about? If I’m a “mature” believer, shouldn’t I be advocating for the weak, bringing them to meet Jesus and be exposed to His presence? I have a great responsibility to the dependent, unimportant, and vulnerable. Oh, heck, who do I think I am anyways? I’m one of them, only I’ve come to learn that You, Jesus, are my Chief Advocate! And I want to keep carrying on what You started in me.
Now, what about me as a parent? I’m a physical parent to four beautiful, lovely girls. With what intensity do I draw them to You, Jesus? Lord, even if I’m rebuked, don’t ever let me walk away from that responsibility. I want to always advocate whole heartedly for them before You.
Lord, I want to live out life Your way. I want to truly advocate for the weak, the vulnerable, the helpless, the ones that are classified as worthless. Lord, I can empathize. I am weak, vulnerable, helpless, and worthless outside of You. But You have always advocated for me. Even before I realized it. Lord, I know what it is to have no advocate for myself except You. So let me join in with You. Let me obey Your command. Let me advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves, because this is the kingdom of God.