by Dorette Saunders
While we can all agree that there are passages in the Bible that we find hard to understand, there are human interest stories that are included which many of us will find relatable.
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke each give an account of parents bringing their children to Jesus for him to bless them. None of the Gospels give much background to the blessing, but even today, we can imagine how it took place. While some translations lists the “parents” as bringing the children, can’t we see mothers taking the lead?
“Wipe your nose, Reuben.” “Put your sandals on, Anna.” “Hurry up, kids!”
After all, this was not one of those prescribed rites where the Pharisees would bless the families’ offspring. This was a spur-of- the-moment opportunity for them to see the rabbi and prophet Jesus who was visiting their town.
This rabbi was different. So very different. He was a lover of people, and of children, too. He taught with power and authority. He was a healer, a teller of stories, and one who took the time to lift up the downtrodden, and comfort those who hurt.
No wonder the parents bundled up their kids and brought them to Jesus just so he could lay his hands on them, and bless them. In four short verses, the Gospel of Mark (10:13-16, CEV) records the incident this way:
Some people brought their children to Jesus so he could bless them by placing his hands on them. But his disciples told the people to stop bothering him.
When Jesus saw this, he became angry and said, “Let the children come to me! Don't try to stop them. People who are like these little children belong to the kingdom of God. I promise you that you cannot get into God's kingdom, unless you accept it the way a child does.” Then Jesus took the children in his arms and blessed them by placing his hands on them.
Acting like bodyguards for a celebrity, the disciples were quick to shoo away the parents and children. As we move toward our blessing, doesn’t it sometimes feel like someone or something always tries to obstruct us? But imagine the mothers in the crowd… their faith strong, and their resilience stronger still, as they responded to the disciples:
“Nobody is going to come between me, my child, and Jesus.”
“Been waiting for 30 minutes, won’t be going anywhere ‘til he blesses us.”
“He doesn’t look tired, mister. Look, he’s calling us to come!”
No doubt their little tiff with the disciples caught Jesus’ ear. Then, Jesus, the master teacher, gives his disciples an object lesson in humility and trust. Just as children in their innocence trust God, so too must those who want to be part of God’s kingdom, come to God without pretensions.
This was no longer just about parents and children. It was about all of us who seek entry into God’s kingdom. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). Jesus came to give us abundant life (John 10:10). Don’t let well-meaning folk curb your enthusiasm, stifle your joy, or push you aside. Jesus says all who come to him he will never turn away (John 6:37).
Do you believe that? If you do, watch Jesus give you more than you imagined. He’ll take you in his arms, and bless you.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you for those women who nurtured us in our infancy and beyond—mothers and mentors. Biological relatives or not, these women breathed your Word in us, taught us about your love and faithfulness. Reward them for the good they did and help us to follow in their footsteps. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.