One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.
When Jesus saw what was happening he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.” Mark 10: 13-16
Whenever I read this scripture I had a picture of Jesus sitting on a rock under a tree and holding the children on His lap while He prayed over them. Yesterday, Ruth and I were listening to a Rich Mullins concert that he performed in 1997. Towards the end of the short concert Rich began to talk about Jesus blessing the children and gave his take on what might have happened. The image Rich had regarding Jesus and these children was very different from what I thought.
He began by remembering how he acted around his nephews and nieces and the way he played with them. He remembered throwing them in the air and catching them just before they fell and he remembered getting down on all fours and pretending he was a bucking bronco trying to throw them off. He remembered their squeals of delight and their laughter and their climbing all over him wanting to play more and more with him.
Do you remember playing like that with your children? I sure do. Those times when we rolled around on the front room carpet came back to me in a moment and flooded me with wonderful warm moments from when there was nothing between my children and me. They had yet to grow up, become educated, move away and find lives of their own. Instead they had pure joy in playing with me and I with them. I was their father and they felt safe and secure in their knowledge that I would never harm them or let them fall so they played with reckless abandon.
Rich, I hope, was right when he pictured Jesus having a delightful time entertaining and as a result blessing the children. How could they not be blessed when laughing and climbing over Jesus?
Then along come the disciples. They couldn’t imagine that children could be important to Him. It was beyond their comprehension that Jesus could toss these children in the air and catch them and make them laugh and giggle with joy. They viewed Jesus as I always had when I thought about the story. He was staid and did His duty towards the children but He had more important things to do like preach about the love of God.
He rebuked the disciples and reminded them that no one was going into the kingdom of Heaven who doesn’t receive Him as these children had. These children weren’t theologically sound, they didn’t have degrees in theology or pastor churches. They didn’t teach Sunday school or spend hours in religious studies and they weren’t experts in apologetics. Instead they trusted Jesus and they could see in His eyes that He really loved them. They understood Jesus was fun and a joy to be around. He treated them with as much love and care as He did for any adult. They knew they were important in His heart.
Mark writes, “then He took the children in His arms and placed His hands on their heads and blessed them.” I love this. Don’t you remember, after playing with your children, how you would gather them up in your arms and hold them feeling your love for them flow through you. When Jesus took these children in his arms He blessed them.
Maybe the true secret to our relationship with Jesus is that we stop acting like the disciples and disapproving of everything everyone else does and act more like the children. Maybe we need to know that Jesus enjoys us for who we are, and maybe we just need to let Him toss us in the air and catch us in His nail printed hands. I think Rich Mullins understood the love of God as only a true follower could, and maybe it’s time we let God bounce us on His knee once again.