Children are inconvenient? No, the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these – Mark 10:13-14

We don’t like being inconvenienced. You decide to go to a café, you get in the car, you drive over there, and then you walk up to it, and the sign on the door says ‘closed’. To make matters worse, on Google it said they were ‘open’. Even in a small way like that, it’s not a nice feeling to be inconvenienced.

In Mark chapter 10 verses 13 to 16 the disciples of Jesus are feeling inconvenienced. They feel like the children that people were bringing to Jesus are causing a problem.

You probably know what small children are like. Children can sometimes interrupt your adult conversations. They can make a mess of the house or the classroom. They drop food on the ground at afternoon tea at church. The child cries and we can’t quite hear the sermon anymore. Wouldn’t it be easier if we didn’t have ministry to children?

The disciples thought that children were interrupting Jesus’ ministry, that they were inconvenient. However, Jesus isn’t inconvenienced by children, he’s eager to welcome them, and bless them. The question is, why does Jesus welcome children?

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place their hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

Parents are bringing their children to Jesus. They want God’s blessing for their children. The disciples, however, have other ideas. They set up an exclusion zone. The bollards and roped off areas are put up around Jesus.

Why did they rebuke the parents? Perhaps they’re thinking, Jesus is too busy to have time wasted. Maybe they’re trying to manage his schedule. I think it’s more likely, that they believe that Jesus is too important for time spent with children. Children in that time weren’t valued, or highly thought of in society. They think that Jesus has better things to do. The disciples scold the parents.

How does Jesus respond to this? In verse 14, Jesus sees what they’re doing, and he becomes angry, indignant, not with the parents, but with the disciples.

Jesus says “let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

Jesus gives two commands in this verse. In the imperative. 1) Let the little children come. 2) Don’t hinder them. Don’t’ stop them coming to me, disciples. These children are not a distraction. They aren’t less important than the grownups. They are to come to me. Let them. Bring them. I want to see them and bless them.

Jesus gives the reason, because “the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

Now we might read this verse, and then immediately spiritualise it. I’ve probably done this in the past. So we think about ways that christians are to be like children in their spiritual lives and then say that if I have a child like faith, then the kingdom of God belongs to me. However, that’s not actually what verse 14 says. That’s what verse 15 says. In verse 14, who is Jesus referring to? Who does he say that the kingdom belongs to? It belongs to the children there with him and those who are like them. The small people, the little ones, the ones who love jumping in puddles, and onto their parents.

Jesus says that the kingdom belongs to the little kids right there in front of him.

This may raise questions for us. Is Jesus saying that all children are in the Kingdom of God? Is he saying that every child has been saved by him? No he’s not. Because whose children is he talking about here? The children in this story are children of parents who believe in Jesus.

These parents have faith in Jesus. Enough to bring their children to him. However small their faith might be, or how much they have understood about Jesus at this point it doesn’t really say. What it does say is that these parents want Jesus’ blessing, not some other teacher, not some other rabbi. They want Jesus to lay hands on their children and pray for them and bless them. Jesus, likewise, wants these parents to bring their children to him. He wants to bless them. He wants to set them apart as belonging to him.

I can imagine that the parents would bring these kids up knowing about Jesus. Mum and Dad would tell the story about that time that time Jesus laid hands on them and blessed them. These parents would talk about who Jesus is, they’d be raised in a home environment where they’d learn the gospel and the things of God.

Jesus is saying that I view these kids, even the little babies in this crowd, as among my flock. They are my disciples. So let them come. They’re not on the outside, they’re in my Kingdom.

The kingdom belongs to them.

What does this mean for us?

There are a number of implications that come out of this text for us.

  1. Christian parenting.

It is a challenge to raise children to follow Jesus. Parents need patience, grace and wisdom in doing this. As much as we may like a magic formula when it comes to parenting. It doesn’t often work like that.

These verses teach us, that it is the job of Christian parents to bring their children to be blessed by Jesus. Jesus wants parents to bring their children to be blessed by him. Which really ought to make us pray more about how we go about our parenting.

So how do we do this?

If you’re reading this as a parent, it’s our responsibility to model Christ to our children. Which brings them first of all to see and understand the gospel. That we all sinners in need of grace, no matter our age. We all need to believe in Jesus.

And then by our life show them what it means to be a part of Jesus’ kingdom. They learn from us about how we approach our King.

Do we give them snippets of godly wisdom to help them as they grow? Do we guide them to think Christianly about school things, friendships, homework, social issues and so on?

I genuinely want my kids to be blessed by Jesus. I think we all do.

The hard work of dragging them into the car, the chaos, the rush, to come to church on a Sunday, is worth it.

Please know and remember that Jesus really does bless children through the ways he’s promised to do so. Jesus does bless our children through the Bible read and preached, taught, and through prayer, in the context of Christian fellowship. That’s how Christians grow, no matter what age they are.

For example, in my family, it’s been really great to hear my kids say to their friends, I can’t go to your birthday party on Sunday because I’m going to church because that’s what I do as a Christian. This is his blessing in them, bearing fruit, which enables them to say that he’s more important than anything else, even cool things like birthday parties.

We all need to be blessed by Jesus, that’s what we most need in the world.

So we need to follow the example of these parents in these verses, are we bringing not only ourselves, but our kids to be blessed by Jesus.

2) How we view children in the church

The second implication of these verses is that we need to think about how we view children in the church.  

Jesus says that the kingdom belongs to such as these. The kingdom belongs to children of parents who believe. Jesus places his blessing on them. They receive the King’s blessing.

This means we ought to view children in the church as part of God’s family, as in the kingdom of God. Churches have the enormous responsibility to raise our kids not as unbelievers to evangelise but as little ones who are growing up within God’s people. We, with God’s help, raise them to love and serve Jesus. Which means, we are to treat our kids as different than those who grow up outside the context of the church.

So we teach our kids to pray, for example. We want to teach them to pray for God, as their “Father in heaven.” Because, we believe, they can approach God as their heavenly Father. We teach our children to ask God for forgiveness for their sins, and that they can have assurance of forgiveness through Jesus. We can teach them to sing songs of the Christian faith that speak of the promises of Christ, and we believe that these promises, the good things of God, and who he is, that these are promises that belong to them as well. In other words, we are to raise and train and love our kids as people who already belong to King Jesus.

Now, it’s important to say, that we don’t know the heart. We don’t know whether or not anyone in the church, no matter their age, is truly born again. However, the way we are to view children in the church (and all who profess faith in Christ for that matter) is as fellow believers until they prove otherwise.

God is the one who brings a person, from death to life. He gives the Holy Spirit and the gift of faith, even to youngest of kids. So if the Holy Spirit, can cause John the Baptist to leap for joy in the womb, so he can save even the youngest, even those not yet born. He gives the gift of faith.

Mark 10:14 is, by the way, is one of the reasons why we baptise infants at Grace Presbyterian Church. We’re a church that baptises both adults who come to profess faith in Christ, and little children who grow up within the church. We’re convinced that the kingdom of God belongs to such as these, as Jesus says. If Christ lays his hands on these infants, as blesses them, as partakers of the covenant, citizens of the kingdom, then why not give them the sign that marks them out as belonging to Jesus and part of his church?

And in all things, we can trust God. He is trustworthy with our kids. God will do what is right. And we need to pray that the children in our churches will never know a time when they haven’t followed Jesus.  

In the next article we’ll look at verses 15 and 16.

Similar Posts