August 19, 2011
He took the children in His arms and placed His hands on their heads and blessed them (v.16).
READ: Mark 10:13-16
According to UNICEF, 4 million newborns die each year within their first month of life and 8.8 million die before their first birthday. Nineteen million infants in the developing world are born underweight and 148 million children under age 5 suffer malnutrition. There are 101 million children who aren’t attending primary school and 2 million living with HIV. These huge numbers represent real faces and personalities.
Children also suffered during Jesus’ day. In Mark, children are depicted as either “sick” or “oppressed” (see 5:35-43, 7:24-30, 9:14-27). Moreover, a child of that era was often considered less important than an adult.
The disciples were quick to deflect children and their parents away from Jesus (10:13). Such an important teacher was not to be troubled by mere kids! But Jesus became indignant at their behavior, noting that children have a special place in His kingdom (v.14). He wrapped His arms around the children and blessed them (v.16).
This display of affection and compassion for children was controversial for a rabbi, but Jesus went further. He made children a role model for adults. “I tell you the truth,” He said, “anyone who doesn’t receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it” (v.15). This was an unthinkable thing to say in Jesus’ day. Children were to be led—not followed.
Jesus’ radical love of kids means two things for those of us who follow Him today. First, we should work hard to see those UNICEF statistics change. Jesus rescued children from illness and oppression and welcomed them into His embrace. So should we.
Second, we should emulate the faith of a child. Jesus’ kingdom isn’t to be earned or accomplished but received like a gift. In this, Jesus says, children can be our guide. —Sheridan Voysey
Jesus resented the poor treatment of children. How often are you troubled by it? To what degree do you trust Jesus?