September 7, 2016
13 Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.
14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.
The people brought their children to Jesus. The bouncers, I mean the disciples, rebuked them. Now, I’m hoping “them” means the parents, but I’m not sure. Why would they do this? How could they have ever gotten the impression from Jesus that this was what he wanted them to do? Days ago he was lifting up a little child and placing her in the midst of these same disciples, telling them if they wanted to enter the Kingdom of Heaven they would have to enter with the humility of a child. Now they were rebuking them, herding the kids away from the King of this Kingdom?
Why Peter? Why James? Why John? You knew better. . . . surely. Maybe they were interrupting the conversation Jesus was having with the disciples about becoming a eunuch—which would have seemed like a welcome relief. Imagine him telling them they may have the eunuch “gift,” and Thomas nervously interjecting, “Hey Jesus! Kids!” Maybe Simon thought the healing of the adults was more needful than the blessing of the children. After all, there was a sizable crowd gathered. Surely the disciples weren’t child haters.
My theory? The disciple were still quite anchored to the value system of the world, with its decisive pecking order, status orientation and power structures. If we look back over the Gospel of Matthew so far, we will see that Jesus took every opportunity possible to reorient the hearts and minds of the disciples. Scenes like this one today must have sorely disappointed Jesus. They weren’t changing. Would they ever change?
Come on Jesus. Can’t they take their kids to the nursery like everyone else? There’s a time and place for kids and this is neither the time nor the place.
Remember those signs on roller coasters, “You must be this tall to ride.” Jesus has just the opposite sign in his line. “You must be this small to enter the Kingdom.” “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
I think the point of all this, beyond the mandate to move children to the front of the line, is to show us what people who have no claim to power, authority, status or prestige look like and how that’s the only qualification he’s looking for. The only qualification is the the willingness to surrender all of what you thought qualified you.
Tomorrow we will see a person of great power, authority, wealth and prestige come to the front of the line. Jesus will tell this man he is too tall to enter the Kingdom. He will tell him how to get smaller, and the guy won’t like it.
We never do.
P.S. If you are going to a church that has no children consider it your calling in life to do something about that. ;0)
Father, open our eyes to the children. Forgive us for all the sophisticated ways we try to be something other than small and humble. We desperately need you to open our eyes to see through the worldly value system that blinds us. We need you to cut through the false, superficial ways we see ourselves and show us the truth of our smallness and give us the grace to exult in it before you. For the sake of your Son I pray, Amen.
1. Are you too spiritually serious? How much time do you spend around children?
2. Why do we spend so much of our lives trying to make ourselves into something or someone we are not?
3. Can you think of adult in your life who carries the real humility of a child? Note: Not the whimsical care free life of an upper middle class child in the suburbs, but a child in the sense of being without power, status, wealth, prestige or authority.
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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.