13 People were bringing children to Jesus so that he would bless them. But the disciples scolded them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he grew angry and said to them, “Allow the children to come to me. Don’t forbid them, because God’s kingdom belongs to people like these children. 15 I assure you that whoever doesn’t welcome God’s kingdom like a child will never enter it.”
Jesus is really angry with his disciples. After everything they’ve been through together he sees that the disciples are still following the hierarchy of the world, not the way of love. Over and over he has taught them about the kingdom of God and shown them, by his own example, that God’s grace is for all people-especially the marginalized of society, the “least of these.”
Children were marginalized in the time of Jesus, as they are today. They held no special status and were a drain on household resources until they could work. They had nothing to offer Jesus and so the disciples scolded the parents and sent them away for trying to gain access to Jesus, their children held in their arms. It must have been a chaotic scene. These parents only wanted Jesus to bless their children and to pray over them that they might grow up in faith. The disciples are attempting to be gatekeepers, determining who gets access to Jesus, and so the powerless were sent away.
Jesus rebukes his disciples and decides it’s time for an object lesson using the children to teach the adults. He calls the children to him, hugs them in his arms. Then he makes a radical statement: That God’s kingdom belongs to people who welcome God’s kingdom like a child. All children have a place in the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is a free gift given to all who humble themselves, and like children, depend on and put their whole trust in the Lord.
by Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
Jesus demonstrated what God’s love for us looks like as he laid his hands on the children’s heads in blessing and prayed over them. Jesus demonstrated that the Kingdom of God is a place of love and acceptance, here and now. We can’t earn it, buy it or bargain our way into it. Like the disciples, sometimes we act as the appointed gatekeepers to say who gets into the Kingdom and who doesn’t get in. Jesus reminds us that this not the way of love. Like children, we can only gratefully and humbly accept God’s gift of salvation through Jesus. When we welcome the Kingdom as children, we are hugged and blessed by Jesus into the family of God.
Are there times in our churches that we forget to walk in the way of love, and we act as gatekeepers, deciding who has access and who does not?
Prayer: Holy and loving God, like children, we depend on and put our whole trust in you. Help us to follow Jesus and to walk in the way of love. Amen.