As we journey through the Witness of Mark, we want to encourage you to first begin with the Daily Reading that will take you through the entire book of Mark. Then, read the First 15 Scripture and Reflection to dive a little deeper into verses from the Daily Reading.
Today's daily reading is: Mark 10:13-31
When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.
Jesus got upset.
Most people are familiar with Jesus’ anger at what he witnessed in the temple (Mark 11:15-19). We call this “righteous anger.” You might also know Jesus became deeply upset upon the death of Lazarus (John 11:28-37). Jesus wept, and we often see this as being rooted in sorrow, grief, and loss. But the Greek phrase enebrimēsato tō pneumati, translated “deeply moved” or “troubled in spirit,” also carries with it the idea that Jesus was indignant, angry, and upset. Jesus was not unfeeling, stoic, or cool, and neither was he only sad and bereaved. Rather, he was passionate. When Jesus wept at Lazarus’ death, why was he emotionally indignant? We can only assume he was angry at death, the grief it caused, the pain that it unleashed, and the sorrow it left in its wake. Keep this in mind when you think about Jesus dying to defeat death. He loved Lazarus. He loves us. His love is stronger than death.
Jesus became angry on another occasion. In Mark 10:13-16 we are told people were bringing little children to Jesus so that he would touch them. The disciples didn’t think this would be the best use of Jesus’ time and attention. The text tells us the disciples rebuked those bringing children, speaking sternly to them. “The Teacher is too busy,” they said, “These children will break the Master’s concentration, interrupt his time of prayer, or distract others from hearing his discourse. Don’t you know we have important kingdom business to tend to? Get these kids out of here.”
But Mark tells us that this caused Jesus to become indignant with them. When Jesus becomes angry, it is best to understand why and to change accordingly. The disciples did not understand Jesus or the kingdom. Jesus commands that the children be brought to him, to not stop them under any circumstance, and that the kingdom belongs to them. Jesus then lifts up a child as an example of how to enter the kingdom. To receive the kingdom, one must become “like” a child. Children are teachable, they are dependent, and they know they must trust in others who are more powerful than them for help. Likewise, we are to trust God, acknowledge our dependence, grow under God’s care, and rely on God for help.
Jesus then takes the children into his arms, touches them, and blesses them. The children are happy, fortunate, and well-off because they are with Jesus. He is glad to offer children his blessing.
Jesus brings children into his arms, touches them, and blesses them. He is showing us that we are not so different from them. We are dependent, in degree if not in kind. We need one another. But we need God first and foremost. Children remind us of what it means to trust and to acknowledge dependence. Children show us what it means to be vulnerable and open, and how important it is for us to receive love, instruction, and wisdom that will enable us to flourish as human beings.
If you are a follower of Jesus, you are called to welcome children as he welcomes children. And the church, of all places on earth, is to be a place where children are received as God’s own. They are to be blessed and built up, delighted in and valued. Children are a reminder that life itself is a gift from God, as well as a proclamation of our hope in God to continue to work out his purposes in creation and ultimately to bring about its full redemption.
When children enter the presence of Jesus, let them come. Remember that you, too, are a child of God. John 1:12-13 says, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
Do not hinder them. Celebrate them. Be mindful of them, learn from them what it means to enter the kingdom. Bless them. Join them. Be like them. Let them come to Jesus. Lead the way.
Father, you have called us as your children in Jesus Christ. Let us come to you like children, and let the children among us be reminders, teachers, and examples for us as we follow after Christ. Enable us, as your people, to care well for children, even as we are recipients of your care. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.