The parents kept bringing their little children to Jesus so that he would lay his hands on them and bless them. But the disciples kept rebuking and scolding the people for doing it. Mark 10:13 (Passion Translation NT)
Directly upon the heels of Jesus’ discussion of marriage and divorce, Mark places this encounter that he has with children (and their parents). Before we are too hard on his disciples, we need to understand that children in the culture at their time held a very low place, unlike our culture where they hold a relatively high place. Jesus had only a finite amount of time and his work was very important, they were trying to allow him time for the important and essential.
It was not uncommon in the culture of Palestine at the time for parents to bring their children to a rabbi to be blessed. The people didn’t believe they were bringing them to be “saved,” or that something magic happened. This was a request for God to give divine favor to the child. Who wouldn’t want that?
Unbeknownst to his disciples [although they would find out hastily] Jesus has time for these children. He is indignant that they have been kept from him. The word is a very strong one and indignant is a good translation. I’m quite sure that Jesus’ disciples got the message quickly.
As he always does in situations like these, Jesus takes the time for a faith lesson. He says, “listen to the truth I speak: Whoever does not open their arms to receive God’s kingdom like a teachable child will never enter it.” A child has a sense of awe and wonder, a sense of joy about what they are doing; they have simple faith and trust easily and without question or worry. This is a humbling lesson for we who have outgrown our simple faith and easy trust. It’s one we need to relearn at Jesus’ feet.
I love the ending to this short encounter. Jesus takes each child into his arms and blesses them. I found myself wondering what became of these children whom Jesus blessed. I’ll bet they have some stories to tell us.