8th May 2023
Read - Mark 10:13-16 (v13 focus)
Message Alan Burke
When I was a wain there was the general view that children should be seen and not heard. My mum even recalls how some years ago the minister of the church that she was a member of at the time, stoping during the sermon to instruct a parent to take their child out somewhere more appropriate for them because they were a distraction and that this wasn’t for them. Today we pick up with people bringing little children to Jesus to have them touch them. The text isn’t not clear who the people were that were bringing these little children, whether it was their parents, mothers, fathers, brother or sisters. Let’s assume though that it is the parents, we’d envision that would be the case and they were bringing their children.
The word here translated as little children means infants, those under the age of two. These little children are being brought to Jesus for him to touch them. It is not because they are being brought because they are unwell like many of the others who were brought to Jesus in Mark’s gospel so Jesus would touch them and heal them, no rather it was for Jesus to bless their children (see for examples Mk 1:41; 3:10; 5:28–31; 6:56; 7:33; 8:22). To give you an idea of the context at the time, it was common among the Jews for children to be brought to great men to have them blessed. The custom comes from Biblical accounts, the likes of how Noah blessing Shem and Japheth (Gen 9:26-27), Issac blessing Jacob and Esau (Gen 27-28:4), Jacob blessing his sons and grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh (Gen 48:13-22 and 49).
So here we have people, bringing their children so that they would be blessed by Jesus, they were bringing them to him as would have been custom in the day, there is nothing out of the ordinary, nothing surprising about this and but after what we were told in chapter 9 what is surprising is the response of the disciples to people brining children, for we are told they rebuked them. We don’t know the ins and outs that caused the disciples had rebuked them, it could have been because Jesus was wrecked or that he was being hassled by the Pharisees, while we are not told their intention and while to them it may have been reasonable, what makes it stick out so much is after what Jesus had taught his disciples back in chapter 9.
Turn back to Mark 9 and there in v33-37 where the disciples had been making their way to Capernaum along with Jesus but they had been arguing among themselves about who was the greatest. Jesus then teaches them what greatness is and it was a wonderfully intimate scene, with Jesus teaching his disciples, Jesus is seated, and they are gathered round his feet on the floor, listening to the teacher. There were likely a number of other people there not just the disciples. While they are sitting and others looking on, Jesus then gets up, sees someone standing at the side, they have a small child in their arms.
Then he sets the child before them, say a year an a half old, who stands there, as there as Jesus looks on, as the disciples and the others look on, and he teaches them, “37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
Do we see the contrast between what Jesus had taught and what the disciples have just done? Do we see the contrast that often takes place between our responses to Children especially when it comes to the worship of God than the teaching of scripture?
While at the time children were deemed insignificant, unimportant, of little value but Jesus had used a child in Mark 9 to make his point, a point that obviously passed the disciples by, that God has given dignity to every human being has no matter how young or old, how even the weakest and most insignificant human being must is of worth to God and in the context of chapter 9 must be served in the same way as the greatest is served. They are of value and worth to the Lord our God and should be of value and worth to us not only when they are being quiet.
Q40 What did God at first reveal to man for the rule of his obedience?
The rule which God at first revealed to man for his obedience, was the moral law. (Rom. 2:14–15, Rom. 10:5)