The Lesson from the Children (Mark 10:13-16) (Part 1)

The Text

And they brought young children to Him (Jesus) that He should touch them; and His disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was much displeased (literally moved with indignation), and said unto them, suffer (permit) the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter into it. And He took them up in His arms, put His hands upon the, and blessed them.

Mark 10:13-16

The Setting

Mark Chapter 10 records five events. Our Lord Jesus teaches the people spontaneously as each situation arises. Jesus is able to use every event that happened and draws out a teaching and lesson out of it. In every event, people’s idea is challenged. Jesus makes the people that listened to Him think. He is always turning their ideas up-side-down. The five events are:

  • Teaching on Divorce (Mark 10:1-12).
  • The Lesson from the Children (Marks 10:13-16).
  • The Rich Young Ruler (Mark 10:17-27).
  • The Lesson learned from James and John’s Request (Mark 10:35-45).
  • Bartimaeus, the blind man (Mark 10:46-52).

Unlike many “moderns” today, the Jews of that day looked on children as a blessing and not a burden, a rich treasure from God and not a liability (Psalms 127 to 128); to be without children bring sorrow to the couple (1Samuel 1:10).

Bridging the Gap

Some interval of time elapsed between the conversation recorded in the last chapter and the conversation we are now to consider. During that interval many things has happened. If we want to “fill in” this gap which Mark leaves in his story, we must turn to Matthew and Luke. From a comparison of these Gospels we find that in the meantime Jesus had sent out the seventy Disciples; He had gone up to Jerusalem to the Feast of Pentecost; He had retired from Jerusalem to Perea; He had again gone up to Jerusalem to the Feast of Dedication; and once again, to avoid the murderous plots of His people, had gone away beyond Jordan, to the place where John the Baptist was at the first baptizing. It was probably just at this point that the question as to divorce was to be placed. 

The Revelation

Mark 10:13“And they brought young children to Him, that He should touch them; and His disciples rebuked those that brought them.” The lesson from the children was the next event that took place –It is fitting that this incident should follow Jesus’ teaching on divorce that is designed to safe-guard marriage and the children. Our Lord Jesus Christ shows that He is the Defender of the weak, and the oppressed, a Guardian of the family and family life. This record of the reception and blessing of the children sheds further light upon that gracious aspect of our Lord Jesus’ character. In the last passage on divorce (Mark 10:1-12), our Lord Jesus maintains the right of the wife. In this passage He maintains the right of the child. Now there are three parties to the family – the husband (father), the wife and the child. The place of the husband was sufficiently safeguarded by the customs and laws of the society in Jesus’ day. But the wife was subjected to cruel wrong in Jesus’ day, and the child was often subject of shameful neglect in Jesus’ day.

By the teaching on divorce our Lord Jesus gives the wife her proper place in the family. By His love for the children, He redeemed childhood from neglect, and makes the children the object of love and care. The emphasis of our Lord Jesus laid upon the family deserves to be called “extraordinary,” says a noted American Professor. Not only did He always express sympathy with domestic life in all its phases; not only did He display great reverence for women and tenderness for children; not only did He adopt the terminology of the family to express the relations between Himself and His Followers, and even the relations between man and God, but the family is the only institution upon which Jesus laid down any specific legislation.

Father’s Responsibility

Mark 10:13a “And they brought (offered) young children to Him, that He should touch them.” Although it is natural to think that the children were brought by their mothers, the masculine gender of the pronoun in the statement that the Disciples rebuked them points rather in the direction of their fathers rather than their mothers. It was the fathers (“them” – masculine) who brought the children to Jesus and not the mothers. It is a reflection of our days and age. In God’s sight, the father of the house is responsible for the spiritual upbringing of his children (Deuteronomy 6:6-8). In our days, the mothers are responsible for the spiritual growth of the children. This is a complete reversal of God’s Plan. Every father will be held responsible by God for the spiritual upbringing of his children (Malachi 4:5-6). It was customary for the children to be blessed by the Ruler of the Synagogue. But Jesus was greater than the Rulers of the Synagogue.

  • Jewish Custom – Every Jewish Parent desired their children to be blessed by a distinguishing Rabbi, but it is interesting to note that Matthew suggests they requested Jesus to ask God’s blessing on their children. This often happened on the first birthday of the child and might be likened to the dedication service for children practiced in churches today. Happy are the Parents who recognise their children to be gifts from God (Psalm 127 & 128).
  • Duty Neglected – Today, in the Church, it is just here, in this crucial and all-important duty that many fond and loving Parents fail. They take every care of their children’s health and education. But many of the Parents take little account of the spiritual well-being of their children.

Mark says that “they were bringing young children to Him.” This pictures a procession as one after another the fathers (or mothers) did this. Matthew notes that the purpose was that Jesus might lay His hands on them and pray (Matthew 19:13). It was a natural thing that these fathers would bring their little children to noted Rabbi (spiritual leader). It was customary for children to receive such a blessing on their first birthday. Luke uses the word for “babes.” However, since there were so many, this need not be limited to those only one year old.

  • Princess Margaret – When Princess Margaret was five years old, the newspaper reported she came out of church one day disappointed. The minister’s prayer disturbed her. “Why did he (minister) only pray for you and daddy and Elizabeth” she asked her mother. “I’m just as bad as you are.”
  • Richard Baxter, a famous English Preacher, accepted a wealthy and sophisticated parish. For three years he preached passionately without any visible results. Finally, one day, he wrote, “I threw myself across the floor of my study and cried out, ‘God you must do something with these people or I’ll die.’” And, he (Richard Baxter) continued, “It was as if God spoke to me audibly and said, ‘Baxter, you’re working in the wrong place. You expect revival to come through the church. Try the home.’” Baxter went from home to home leading parents to give themselves to God and setting family worship. The fire began to burn until the entire congregation was alive, and the flames of spiritual renewal spread across the land.

To be continued….. Stay tuned…..

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