The Gospel of Mark

Mark - Lesson 10B

Chapter 10:13-16

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  • Tonight, our text moves us from Jesus' teaching on divorce to a lighter note, in a way.

    • We find ourselves back to a familiar discussion dealing with familiar language on matters regarding the Kingdom of God.

      • We will find Mark using the term “children” again to connect with Jesus' previous point of:

        • 1. How Jesus views the children?

        • 2. How the disciples should see the children?

      • Although we have 4 verses to cover tonight the impact of the text will move us to see how our hearts can be detached from eternal matters because of our current human-perspective.

    • Within tonight’s text, we will see the following things

      • 1. Jesus address the disciples’ rebuke (v. 13)

      • 2. Jesus address who can enter the Kingdom (v. 14-15)

      • 3. Jesus sets the example (v. 16)

    • If I were to put a tag on tonight's text it would be: “Suffer not the little ones”

      • With that being said, I invite you to open a copy of scripture and meet me in Mark 10: 13-16.

Mark 10:13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 
Mark 10:14 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. 
Mark 10:15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 
Mark 10:16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.
  • Let’s Pray.

  • As a father, one thing I love to observe in my children, is their total trust in Mom and Dad.

    • There is this knowing that in all things Mom and Dad have our best interest at heart and they will provide for our every need.

      • As we get older and grow in our relationship with Jesus, we have this tendency to move from dependence to independence.

      • It's almost as if we have lost that child-like reliance as when we were younger.

    • This sense of life is often blurred when worldly matters become greater than the consistent, faithful voice of our heavenly Father.

  • We will find in tonight's text, the word of God drawing us to a constant need to approach God, our Heavenly Father, as we would as a child to their earthly father –

    • Knowing that all things are possible and available through God alone, in Christ alone.

Mark 10:13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 
  • It’s after Jesus’ difficult teaching on matters surrounding divorce that Mark mentions “people” began bringing their children to Jesus.

    • Now, although the text does not specify who the “people” are specifically, we can assume based upon social and cultural norms during that time that the “people” bringing the children were women.

      • In one way, one could look at this and think, “This is a good thing!” or “How sweet is that, an opportunity for the children to be blessed by Jesus”

      • However, Mark mentions that the disciples took issue with the women bringing their children to Jesus.

      • And in the disciples’ displeasure of this scene, the text tells us that the disciples rebuked them.

    • It’s important to note that the disciples are not rebuking the children, per se, but rather the women who have brought their children to Jesus.

      • And to make matters worse, the women are bringing the children into the middle of this crowded circle right after the conversation of divorce and marriage.

      • Why do I mention this in light of where we are in tonight’s passage?

    • Well to understand this moment we have to consider 2 things:

      • 1. Who is bringing the Children? (We’ve done that)

      • 2. The status of a child during that time

    • Women during antiquity did not have the extent of rights that women today have in the free world.

      • Women were not owners of property or possessions, therefore their stance in society, although above a child, was not ideal.

    • And in the same way, a child during antiquity was considered unimportant and lowly in society.

      • Therefore, in the minds of the disciples, the question became: “Who are these women and children to waste Jesus’ time?”

      • In other words, this interaction was beneath Jesus and therefore it was beneath them.

      • So, out of frustration, the disciples rebuked the women for sending the children to be blessed by Jesus.

    • Well, this begs a question and a thought to be recalled, and that is: Why would the disciples withhold the children from going to Jesus?

      • It almost seems as if the disciples forgot how Jesus addressed the importance of children not too long ago.

      • You might remember in Mark 9:36-37. Check out what Jesus stated about the little children.

Mark 9:36  Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, 
Mark 9:37 “Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.”
  • So, it becomes clear that the disciples have not learned from the lesson from prior regarding this issue of exclusivity and elitism.

    • That where there seems to be an opportunity for the children to be blessed by Jesus and draw near to Him, the disciples see it as a hinderance or nuisance.

    • The word for “rebuke” here in the Greek is a very strong word. It is a forceful warning that expresses great disapproval.

      • And because of this attitude towards the children, Jesus’ response towards the disciples will be both a public correction and teaching moment.

      • Check out verses 14 and 15.

Mark 10:14 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. 
Mark 10:15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 
  • Mark really sets the scene for us here. Jesus is seeing the disciples in real time shooing away and aggressively criticizing the women for bringing their children to Jesus.

    • And this rebuke becomes both visibly and verbally apparent because Mark mentions that Jesus became “indignant”.

      • The word “indignant” in Greek is aganakteo (ag-anak-teo) which means to arouse to anger over something unjust and wrong.

      • And in this case Jesus’ compassion for the children becomes visible based upon His infuriating anger towards the disciples’ actions.

    • So, Jesus in His anger tells the disciples, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them.” In other words, “permit them to come, do not hinder them.”

      • From there Jesus then mentions why the little children should not be hindered to come to Him.

      • He states, “for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

    • What a profound statement!

      • Remember that Jesus has used this illustration of children before regarding greatness in the Kingdom. (Mark 9:36-37)

      • And He spoke about how receiving a child, as He demonstrated, not only confirmed their embracing of the Son, but also that of the Father.

      • In other words, taking in and serving those who would otherwise be deemed insignificant in society is close to the heart of God.

    • So where the disciples are seeking to neglect and reject the children in this setting, Jesus is saying, “You are missing the point!”

      • Do not prevent the children from coming but rather lead them to me.

    • Jesus was using this moment to convey the reality that the Kingdom Program is about reaching people like these children, both figuratively and literally.

      • Jesus needs the disciples to see that the point of their ministry is to serve those in whom the world deems to be the unreachable, the least and the lowly.

      • So it becomes clear that Jesus uses children as a metaphor representing people in society that are deemed un-valuable.

    • If we were to think about that in today’s terms it’s the orphans, the homeless, the downtrodden, the abandoned, etc.

      • To put it plainly, even the least of these needs the “Lord of All”.

      • Psalm 34:18 says this regarding the Lord’s care for the brokenhearted:

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
  • This effort of service for the Kingdom of God is not and should not be a sub-ministry in the local body of Christ, but it should be the core of the Kingdom Program.

    • What the disciples' reaction showed at this moment is that their understanding of their mission has not yet been fully grasped.

    • That where they are looking to make an impact in the world for Jesus, they tended to overlook the very ones in whom Christ came for.

    • This reminds me of what James spoke about in James Chapter 2 regarding the sin of partiality. (Rich closer to the front, poor in the back)

    • So where the disciples see the poor, in status, as insignificant, Jesus sees them as the perfect candidates to receive the Kingdom.

      • And as we will see next week, Jesus extends this teaching point into matters regarding the rich young ruler.

    • James 1:27 also speaks to the priority of seeking to serve those who have no sense of power or privilege.

      • Check out what the text says:

James 1:27  Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
  • James lays out the fact that the essence of true religion, true relationship with God is found in ones’ ability to serve those who could never offer anything in return.

    • Here is a question to consider: If no one ever donated to a ministry you served in or a church you belonged to, would your effectiveness of ministry change?

    • Would your motivation for ministry change if it meant you would not have a platform to be known by men?

    • Would your motivation for ministry change if you were only preaching to 10 people rather than ten thousand?

    • In other words, our true heart’s intention should be wrapped up in glorifying God and introducing people to Christ, rather than being concerned about a “bottom line” or an inconvenient factor.

      • I remember there was a church that my wife and I were serving at and they were considering to do a “Church plant” in the inner city.

      • We were pumped about this opportunity because we had taught in inner city schools before.

      • However, they put this particular church plant on hold because the church would not be able to “generate enough money.”

      • Needless to say that was a clear sign for us to leave.

    • The purpose of the Kingdom Program and sharing the Gospel is that all people are in need of it, regardless of their zip code, educational level, age, etc.

      • So, Jesus’ correction of the disciples is that “these are the ones” (such as these), we have been called to serve.

      • The Kingdom of God belongs to those who recognize that they bring nothing to the table but that as we trust in Him, we are complete in the Lord.

    • Jesus continues on in verse 15 by mentioning that “anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom ‘like one of these’ will never enter it.”

      • To understand what Jesus is saying here, we need to understand metaphorically what He is saying.

    • As He speaks to the entrance of the Kingdom, He connects it in a positional sense and not an associative (familial) sense.

      • In other words, like a child is dependent and trusts their parents for providing daily need, so should a person depend upon God’s means and provision for eternal life. (Child-like faith)

      • All that we need to enter the Kingdom is: an abandonment of our own will and to place our trust upon the Lord Jesus – for through Him and in Him alone is our fullness and security – not ourselves.

    • If we were to be honest ourselves, for some believers there is this tendency to believe that our proximity or theological knowledge to Jesus saves them.

      • And this dangerous frame of thought can cause a hinderance for non-believers and young believers to miss the power of the Gospel.

    • There is a difference between intellectually knowing God and experientially being transformed by God (reborn).

      • There is a danger we run into in Christendom that if someone has been in church all their lives and gives financially, that it’s their ticket into Heaven.

      • Or if a person knows a lot about scripture and knows what this word or that word means in the Greek that they are saved – simply by osmosis

      • Friends, salvation is not based upon you or I performing an intellectual exercise (merit), but rather it is based upon what Jesus Christ has done for us and resting in that.

    • There are several implications that come with this reality that I mentioned earlier and one in particular that I would like to further expound upon.

      • And it deals with the literalness of the phrase “like a child”.

      • As we approach the text, it comes without question that God receiving believers in the Kingdom does not exclude children.

      • I mentioned earlier that the thought of the day was that children were not held in high regard, especially with regards to religious matters.

    • However, the text seems to suggest that even a child has a place in the Kingdom, solely because of their trust in Christ.

      • Well this begs a significant question for us today as well as a significant warning and we will see that in verse 16.

Mark 10:16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.
  • So, Jesus rejects the disciples’ dismissal of the children coming to Him and sets the example for what true ministry looks like.

    • That where the disciples saw hinderance and an inability for the children to receive or understand the significance of Christ’s ministry, Jesus saw the children as the perfect recipients of His ministry.

      • I mentioned that there was a significant question that comes from Jesus’ acceptance of the children and the disciples’ rebuke of the children.

      • And at the same time there is a dangerous warning to be had.

    • The question that comes about is: How are the children able to come to saving faith in Christ?

      • And that answer is: The same way in which all believers come to faith in Christ and that is through the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit.

    • We can oftentimes make the silly assumption that God couldn’t possibly be at work through young children.

      • Some may assume that because children may not understand deep theological matters that somehow, they couldn’t come to faith at such a young age.

      • Friends, children at even a young age have the same opportunity for the Holy Spirit to open their eyes. Age is not a factor, just as much as mental or physical disabilities are not a factor.

    • If I were to provide for us just one example in the New Testament, we see that John the Baptist, while in his mother’s womb was filled with the Holy Spirit to do the work in which the Father had set for him to accomplish. (Luke 1:13-16).

      • Now, I recognize that John, being filled by the Spirit, was for the purposes of being the forerunner of Christ.

      • Yet it still supports the point being made which is God’s sovereign calling in salvation is not limited to just adults at a “particular” age.

    • That whether God called you at 6 or at 96, God by His Spirit opened your eyes and called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light.

      • And notice that this drawing and calling is not initiated or controlled by man’s interference, but rather by God’s doing within the hearts of men and women.

      • You may now be asking: Well what are the dangers in discouraging or hindering children from coming to Jesus.

    • The danger in becoming a hindrance to a child coming to faith by being a “gatekeeper” is equivalent to the warning Jesus gave in Mark 9:42. (Tying the millstone around the neck)

      • We must allow God to do the work that only He can accomplish and our job is to aid, even the children, by teaching them the things of God.

    • When we think about faith in general, what is it? It is placing trust in God’s provision for salvation ,and that act of saving faith can take place within a child.

      • The reality is that faith is not initiated because we confessed with our mouths, but rather faith is something that has happened in our hearts.

      • For some there is a time gap between the expression of faith in the heart and the confession of faith from the mouth.

      • And this looks differently for different people.

      • Again, this is why faith is not an intellectual exercise, but a miraculous work within the heart by God.

    • As we see Jesus’ compassion towards the children and His teaching on the Kingdom, it becomes a picture of how the church would need to engage even the least of all.

      • The purpose of the church is to meet the needs of the people God sends our way that they may first be spiritually edified and satisfied in Christ.

      • Secondly, through meeting that spiritual need the physical needs can be met in the process.

    • So what do we see from the text tonight: We see that all people, young and old, are in need of being met with the Gospel.

      • That we must check our personal prejudices at the door and seek the opportunities that God provides for us to minister to whomever, wherever, and whenever.

    • We also saw that our jobs as ministers of the Gospel and sharers of the Good News is to meet the needs of those around us without “strings attached”.

      • The reality is, as we minister to those around us, there may never be a thank you.

      • There may never be a donation to the ministry, and the list goes on and on.

    • However, if our motives are set upon sharing Jesus with people, the reward in full is found in a future Glory not made with human hands.

      • Lastly, we mustn’t wait for children to reach a certain age where “we think” they can understand the Gospel.

      • This means we don’t send them to children’s church for entertainment or a childcare moment.

      • Rather we immerse them in Gospel teaching at home and at church so that as they grow in their understanding of Jesus their hearts will respond to the truth of God.

    • Friends, may you and I minister without blinders on our eyes.

      • May we see people just as Jesus does, in the sense that, all are in need to be served even those in whom the world deems undeserved.

      • For at the foot of the cross both the beggar and the banking broker are on the same playing field – in need to be served and saved.

      • Let’s Pray.