We find Jesus angry only a few times in the Bible, and this is one of them. According to custom, parents desired a blessing for their children from the rabbi. But prior to his opportunity to bless the children on this occasion, the disciples have shooed the children away so as not to bother Jesus.
These verses paint a vivid scene in our mind as parents and children, crying babies, squirming toddlers surround Jesus, desirous of his touch. How we all long to be blessed, touched by the Holy. In an attempt to honor and perhaps protect the rabbi, the disciples take decisive action to stop this nonsense. They work to remove this distraction from their real work.
I often work a hard deadline. Sunday keeps coming. My phone rings; even with my office door shut, someone knocks; a person experiencing homelessness wants to talk to a pastor. The request comes, “Pastor, would you pray with me?”
I could shoo people away, not take the call, ignore the e-mail—view it all as distraction from my real work. Yet, interruptions for Jesus often get redefined as blessings: the woman at the well, the one who touches the hem of his garment, the hunger of the five thousand. Each moment becomes a blessing.
Ancient societies did not value children, viewing them as nonpersons, distractions. So the disciples shoo away the insignificant ones. Jesus is angry with the disciples’ inability to see the possible blessing. Jesus not only comes to the defense of the children, he advances them as examples in the kingdom. Christ-followers are to help others gain access to the holy, always seeing divine possibilities.
God, forgive me for overlooking and judging people as distractions. Amen.
This month we read about Job, an upright man who faces severe trials but never loses his faith. Job’s story brings us face-to-face with the fact that living a godly life does not make us immune to suffering. Like Job, the psalmist wonders why he suffers, even though he lives according to God’s standards. Hebrews presents Jesus as the ultimate example of unwarranted suffering, yet because of his perseverance he is ultimately glorified. In Mark, some Pharisees test Jesus on the interpretation of the law concerning divorce. Jesus makes strong statements about marriage, but his larger concern is that their hearts have become hard. He contrasts them with little children, who model faith by receiving God with an open heart.
• Read Job 1:1; 2:1-10. How do you live with integrity?
• Read Psalm 26. When have you turned to God, fully expecting divine intervention in a tough situation? What happened?
• Read Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12. When has your reaction to God’s showing up in unexpected ways resulted in a face-plant?
• Read Mark 10:2-16. How questioning a person are you? When have your questions helped you move below the surface of an issue to see the supporting understanding?
Respond by posting a prayer.