Mark 10:13-16… Now people were bringing little children to Jesus for him to touch, but the disciples scolded them. 14 So when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 I tell you the truth, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” 16 After he took the children in his arms, he placed his hands on them and blessed them.
As Jesus traveled towards Jerusalem the crowds of people brought their children to him. It was customary then for mothers to bring their children to notable rabbis by their first birthday. Jesus, though hated by some, must have had a demeanor about him that people naturally trusted and loved about him because mothers didn’t bring their children to just anyone. They wanted Jesus to touch their children, for this was the visible means of symbolically conveying God’s grace on them to bless their present and future lives. It was a child dedication of sorts.
The disciples, however, weren’t as receptive to children as Jesus. They would have been the last people a mother would bring her children to for blessing, for they were clearly annoyed at the presence of children – considered to be insignificant in the culture (especially little girls). Now their annoyance at the children, along with their attempts to keep them from Jesus, angered him in v. 14. Jesus was said to have been “indignant” with the disciples for their behavior. Jesus’ indignation seems out of character for him, but he wanted to make it crystal clear that the attitude of the disciples was reprehensible. If Jesus had been passive about their behavior the crowd might have associated him with the annoyance of the disciples, and he wanted nothing of that.
Jesus clearly loved children, and he didn’t mind blessing them. But he didn’t just do so simply as a routine ritual. In the midst of a generation who admired and followed the rich and famous, Jesus used a lowly child to illustrate those who enter God’s Kingdom. He saw so much in the eyes of the children, and one can’t help but to see him smiling ear to ear as he blessed them. This entire scene reflects back to the situation in Mark 9:36 where he held a child in his arms and used him as an example of all his “little ones.” There are at least three reasons why Jesus used children to illustrate those who will enter God’s kingdom. First, children are humble. Unlike adults they have no aspirations to greatness. Second, children lack pride, and this allows them to accept gifts without insisting on paying the giver back(adults tend to insist on paying the giver back). Third, children have simple faith. They believe what they’re told. And those who wish to enter God’s kingdom must be willing to think outside of their logic box as it were.
In v. 15 Jesus warns that those who won’t receive the kingdom as a child won’t enter at all. Those who recognize how insignificant and small they are, however, will enter the kingdom. This is what will ultimately prevent the rich man in Mark 10:17-31 from entering, for he refused to part with his riches which made him feel important. Consequently, he lost the kingdom.
Food for Thought
Those who do come to Christ “as little children” are held in his arms and blessed, for he loves them intensely. God’s love for all people is one of action as evidenced at the cross, but His particular love for His chosen ones, those who come to Him in faith, is especially intense – like that of a mother to her children. Childlike faith is what distinguishes God’s children from the rest of the world. We may not understand all that God does or has done, but a true child of God knows that God knows best; that He is sovereign and in control – the same way a child goes to sleep at night knowing that his mom and dad are protecting him. Christ holds those with that kind of faith close to his heart. He loves his children – those whose faith overcomes the world.
· A logical sequence: first marriage/divorce/remarriage, then children
· Moody quote on page 68 of 1,100 Illustrations
· Children are impressionable, and you can tell them anything. It better be Truth!
I) Exegetical: CHILDLIKE FAITH IS TRUE FAITH (and God loves this; it pleases Him)
A) V. 13: Jesus taught disciples to receive & not hinder children – His “little ones”
1) NOT teaching akin to BAD teaching
2) Danger of making church attendance and Bible reading optional
B) V. 14: Jesus’ emotions: was incensed by those who scorned children
1) His anger was to separate himself from the disciples
2) 1:41 – moved w/compassion
3) 1:43 – sternly warned the disciples
4) 3:5 – Looked around at them in anger and grieved at their hardness of heart
5) 7:34 – sighed deeply
C) V. 15: God loves childlike (not childish) behavior
1) They accept their lot; trust others to care for them.
2) Innocent though not sinless
3) Open & trustful – simple & dependent – no pretension or hypocrisy.
4) Where does a child go when hurting? mom and/or dad
5) They accept gifts w/o insisting on paying the giver back
D) V. 16: Jesus holds His children in his arms
1) They sought a “touch” (bleeding woman); he held AND blessed.
2) Jesus willing to work in children’s ministry!
3) Loved the lowly (same thing with the widow in Matt. 12:42)
II) Theological: GOD LOVES CHILDREN
A) He’s called “Father”
B) He adopts all of His children (Eph. 1:5)
C) Particular love vs. general love (1 Tim. 4:10)
D) All children going to heaven?
III) Homiletical: RAISE CHILDREN TO LOVE JESUS, MODELING THEIR FAITH
A) All parents must rear children “in the discipline & instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).
1) Example of Timothy in 2 Tim. 3:5 (and Prov. 22:6)
2) Deut. 6:4-9
B) Dedicate your child(ren) to the Lord
C) Look down on NO one – all are God’s creation
D) Future reformation hinges on child rearing
E) Proposal: more missions money for children
D.L. Moody: “It is a masterpiece of the devil to make us believe that children cannot understand [Christ]. Would Jesus have made a child the standard of faith if he had known that it was not capable of understanding his words? It is far easier for children to love and trust than for grown-up persons, and so we should set Christ before them as the supreme object of their choice.”
Verse 13: Now people were bringing little children to him for him to touch, but the disciples scolded them.
· The word for “children” includes ages up to 12 years. They desired God’s blessing as in a child dedication. This can be public and/or private, but it should be done.
· Some were infants (Luke 18:15) while others were full-grown children.
· They became annoyed with the presence of children, and they might illustrate how we all treat those we look down on. Jesus didn’t look down on them however.
· Particular love vs. general love… But he has a special love for those who come to him in childlike faith. He holds them, “For Christ is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe” (1 Tim. 4:10).
· The kingdom of God is essentially something that God gives and man receives. There is no work to be done on the part of man any more so than a child could attain greatness.
Verse 14: So when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
· Literally, the expression is this: “Let them alone right now! Stop hindering them from coming to me.”
· No one is barred from coming to Jesus. All are welcome, even the lowly.
· Jesus was justifiably angry for they were preventing the most receptive people to his message. While others ignored his wonders, he knew the children were impressionable and would remember him.
· Emotions expressed by Jesus:
1. 1:41 – moved w/compassion
2. 1:43 – sternly warned the disciples
3. 3:5 – Looked around at them in anger and grieved at their hardness of heart
4. 7:34 – sighed deeply
5. 9:19 – O unbelieving & perverse generation! How long shall I be w/you and endure you?
Verse 15: “I tell you the truth, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”
· Children live by faith. By faith they accept their lot, trusting others to care for them.
· Children have a certain innocence, but they’re not sinless.
· Children are naturally open and trustful. They are simple, open, dependent, and they lack pretension and hypocrisy. Jesus held them up as examples of the attitude required for kingdom citizenship.
· What does a child do when he or she has a hurt or a problem? Take it to Father and Mother!
· By and large adults don’t want anything given to them, but children accept everything. The kingdom belongs to them b/c they receive it as a gift. Children are humble.
· The kingdom is only for those who have a simple faith – “as a child.”
· God wants us to be like children w/o being childish.
Verse 16: After he took the children in his arms, he placed his hands on them and blessed them.
· All that was sought was Jesus’ touch (remembering the bleeding woman!). But Jesus held and blessed them, giving them more than they asked for. He always does.
· Jesus would have been a willing participant in the children’s ministry!
· Jesus loved the lowly. He did the same thing with the illustration of the widow’s mite – her very small gift among the many rich givers that day.
· Adults seek riches, luxury, etc. while children simply seek attention from their parents.
· Jesus makes no mention here of baptism, parental faith, parental covenant, or ecclesiastical rite. The children weren’t saved per se; all Jesus was showing was their example of humility.
· There is no suggestion here that Jesus baptized these children, for Jesus did not even baptize adults (John 4:1–2). If the disciples had been accustomed to baptizing infants, they certainly would not have turned the people away. Jesus took these precious little ones in His loving arms and blessed them—and what a blessing that must have been!
· Some believe that this passage implies that children, because of their mental deficiency and inability to express saving faith, are granted salvation by God in the event of death prior to their age of decision – that they are under a special protection. Don’t know!
· Five key words for parents and Christian workers giving guidance to children:
- REMEMBER: that every child is a creation of God and belongs to Him. Psalm 139:13-14… “You are the One who wove me together in my mother’s womb, and I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 127:3… “Children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward.” Proverbs 22:6… “Train up a child in the way he should go; when he is old he will not depart from it.”
- TEACH: Children must be brought up in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). Notice the example of Timothy whose mother Eunice and grandmother Lois were commended for having taught him “the sacred writings which are able to give the wisdom that leads to salvation which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:5). Note also Deut. 6:4-9. We too should post Bible passages all over our homes (Awana verses). To forget God is to fail to enter the Promised Land.
- MODEL: Bad examples are Eli and David. Tim Cowan has observed: “We cannot simply make a child believe in a truth because it’s good for them. Their perceptive spirits will sense when we are doing something to engineer or manipulate a certain response… A mature motive for passing on truth is that as a parent I hold that truth to have value for my life, independent of my children and their response to it.”
- LOVE: this includes saying it, weeping with our children, rejoicing w/them, hurting w/them, unselfishly serving them, and sacrificing for them. All of this without making them an idol in our own lives!
- TRUST: After parents have done all they can do they must then surrender to God by trusting that He will make our efforts fruitful. Ultimately, only the HS can give life to children.