Mark 10:13b “And His disciples rebuked those that brought them.” Jesus’ Disciples were unjustly and ineffectually (meaning of the word “rebuke”) preventing the children access to Jesus because they had a wrong estimate both of the worth of a child and of the nature of the Kingdom of God:
- It is not necessary for a child to become adult before participating in the Kingdom of God; rather the reversal is true, the adult must be converted, turn back and become a child – Matthew 18:3b “Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
- The Kingdom of God is not a matter of achievement or merit; we must “receive the Kingdom of God” as a gift, and this is where the child has the advantage.
The Disciples’ attitude was strange, because Jesus had already taught them to receive the children in His Name and to be careful not to cause any of them to stumble – Mark 9:36-37 “And He (Jesus) took a child, and set him in the midst of them (Disciples); and when he had taken him in His arms, He said unto them, whosoever shall receive one of such children in My name, receiveth me; and whosoever shall receive Me, receiveth not Me, but Him that sent Me.” It is a serious matter to look lightly upon children and their place in God’s Plan. For in them are bound up infinite possibilities:
- Each of the children is the object of God’s Love.
- Children are the joy of today and the hope of tomorrow.
It is a tragedy beyond measure to fail to let the children to be rightly related to Jesus; what a fearful thing is the responsibility of adults entrusted with the care of little children, and especially with regard to their spiritual nurture:
- Rabbindranath Tagore in Stray Birds: “Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged with man.”
- Charles Dickens – “I love these little people; and it is not a sight thing when they, who are so fresh from God, love us.”
- E.T Sullivan – When God wants a great work done in the world a great wrong righted, He goes about it in a very unusual way. He doesn’t stir up His earthquakes or send for His thunderbolts; instead, He has a helpless baby born, perhaps in a simple home and of some obscure mother. And then God puts His idea into the mother’s heart, and she puts it into the baby’s mind. And then God waits. The greatest forces in the world are babies.
Mark 10:14 “But when Jesus saw it, He was much displeased, 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.” Quite naturally when Jesus saw His Disciples rebuking these fathers, He was “much displeased” (verse 14). This verb renders a Greek verb (aganaktein) which means: “to feel pain.” It expresses deep emotion which is best expressed as indignation. This is the only occasion where this word (implying anger) is predicated (affirmed) to Jesus. So, Jesus was indignant over the action of the Disciples.
Jesus said: “Suffer (Permit) the little children to come unto Me and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” (verse 14). Literally “stop hindering.” Hindering was exactly what the Disciples were doing. And it was the opposite of what Jesus wished. For both verbs “suffer” and “forbid” are imperative modes. They are commands. The Disciples were to stop forbidding. Rather they were to keep on permitting the children to keep on coming to Jesus. The children were attracted to Jesus because they found the love of Jesus and are able to be at ease in His Presence. Our Lord Jesus said: “Of such (as little children) is the kingdom of God” (verse 14). Citizens of the Kingdom of God must be as a little child. This opens up a vast area as to the Kingdom character of: Trust, obedience, humility and forgiving spirit and dependent.
Mark 10:14b-15 “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.” The fathers were bringing the children to Jesus, but His Disciples were excluding the children from the presence of Jesus because they were having a theological discussion on divorce. Jesus was displeased and rebuked His Disciples – “And when Jesus saw it, He was much displeased 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” (Mark 10:14). Jesus was using the situation to teach an object – that the adult must be like the children to receive God’s Revelation. This was a reversal of idea. There are five characteristics in every child:
- Open Mind – The mind of a child is open. He is ready to believe anything. He has a wide open mind. The older a person grows, the more he closes his mind. He argues and says I do not believe it. If we tell a child something, he accepts it.
- Open Hand – A child is willing to receive. The further a person grown in life, the less the person is willing to receive without a question mark in his mind – suspicion. The assistance given to the person in age is called “charity.”
- Open Heart – A child is willing to be loved and will response to love and care. The older a person gets he becomes suspicious and will question an honest gesture of love – “What is he after??” A child does not react in such suspicion. A child is spoiled by experiences of life and the heart closed up – “Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter into it” (Mark 10:15).
- Trust – A child displays trust (acceptance of authority and confidence). He has the tendency to be obedience. A child does not become distracted by all the complexities of life. When he trusts, his faith is simple and unwavering.
- Forgive Spirit – A child has short memory when it comes to bearing grudges.
Jesus draws lessons that unless we have the attitude of a child, it is difficult for the adult mind to receive the Kingdom of God –“Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little children, he shall not enter into it” (Mark 10:15). Jesus took the children in His Arms – “And He took them up in His arms, put His hands upon them and blessed them.”
The Parent’s Joy
Mark 10:16 “And He took them up in His arms, put His hands upon them and blessed them.” The delightful picture conveyed by the strong compound word in Greek (katêulogei), occurring nowhere else in the New Testament: “He blessed them fervently, again and again.” As each child comes to Jesus, one by one He places His hands upon them and blesses each child, individually; this is the Jewish custom an “act of a father” (Genesis 27:38):
- Jesus holds out His arms to welcome them.
- Jesus enfolds them by putting His arms around them.
- Jesus lifts one hand to place it on the child’s head in blessing.
In his book “Reality Therapy,” well-known Psychiatrist Dr. William Glasser states his belief that there is no such thing as mental illness. The deviant symptoms that we have come to classify as mental illness, Glasser claims are the result of a frustration of two basic needs of life. These needs are love and be loved. If either of these needs is not met, people tend to break down emotionally. As Victor Hugo put it. “The supreme happiness of life is in the conviction that we are loved.”
Dr. Rene Spitz, a New York Psychoanalyst, spent three months observing the reaction of babies in an orphanage where the nursing staff was so busy that each child had “one tenth of a mother.” Dr Rene Spitz found that approximately 30 percent of the babies died before they were a year old. Emotional starvation is as dangerous as physical starvation,” says Dr. Rene Spitz.
Practical Application – The inner drive to love and be loved is very strong. All through life we want to make friends. As Parents, the way we extend love to our children profoundly affects their ability to relate effectively to others. The degree to which we include our children in our lives, show them love, respond to their love – to that extent the children are capable of including others in their life, in their friendships, and in their love.