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Carried to the Table

October 25, 2012

Depending on the circles that you typically run in…whether they are people of faith…non-religious…or actually professing Christians…we all have varying degrees of exposure to what we, and the Bible calls “the world.”  That might sound silly given the reality that we all find ourselves, presently, on the same spinning rock.  But the reality is that many of us are quite skilled in the art of insulating ourselves from the world around us.  You might think that you’re unique in that…but the truth is that those of us who fall into this are great in number…far from original.

Take a moment and read through Mark 10:13-16.  I could give you the passage in the body of this text, but you and I would both be better served to break into our actual Bibles a little more frequently.

There are a couple of things worth noting right out of the gate on this.  The first is that the people were bringing the children (infants) to Jesus for him to touch them…but it doesn’t say they were bringing them to be healed.  Throughout the Gospel of Mark, people are approaching Jesus with their sick, and lame, and afflicted family members to be healed, but in this case, that’s not what they’re seeking.  These people have accepted Jesus of Nazareth as a legitimate Jewish rabbi and are bringing their children to be blessed.

Now…the disciples see this happening…and they begin to rebuke the people.  They probably thought that Jesus was above that sort of thing.  He’s the One who heals…the One who restores sight…the One who walks on water…the One feeds multitudes…repeatedly.  Surely he, this One, is above such a menial task as simple as blessing little children.  There has to be a lower level rabbi with time to take care of that.  Jesus’ response; “he was indignant.”  And listen…this is strong language.  Jesus is angry.  This is the type of response that you might see from him regarding the Pharisees.  But these were his boys…his disciples.  And that’s why he was so disappointed.  By this point, his face is turned toward Jerusalem and his passion…and his disciples still don’t get it.  And neither does our culture today.

The next words that Jesus speaks in 14 and 15 have been hijacked by some in our day as a way of belittling the Christina faith.  Depending on your relationship with the world, you might have experienced this sort of thing.  They’ll say, regarding this passage, “See, even the founder of your faith says that you must be a child.  You have to be gullible.  You have to be naïve.  You have to be willing to believe whatever you are told.  You have to be stupid.”

But that isn’t what Jesus is talking about at all.  He isn’t interested in mindless fools who neglect the use of their minds in order to follow their hearts.  That isn’t his aim at all.  In that culture…in that time…children were in a state of low value, and high maintenance.  They had no rights.  They had no claim to anything.  And this might be a shock in our generation of child worship, but they just didn’t matter until they were able to contribute.  Until then…they were baggage.  For them to receive anything…anything at all…it would only be as a gift…it could only be by grace.  The disciples, like we so often do, had lost touch with that reality.

Jesus is showing here that the minute that we think we deserve to be saved…the minute we try to earn it, to purchase it, or to claim it as our own inalienable right, that we’ve missed it.  That’s why Jesus says, “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”  It’s not that he wants morons…he wants people who have a true understanding of who they are…and who he is.

And listen, this is easily forgotten…especially for those of us in the church.  Paul, in his second letter to the Corinthian church had to remind them of this truth.  In 5:17-18, he says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”  All. This. Is. From. God.  Just like little children with no rights…no claim to salvation…no hope for blessing or reconciliation…we are carried to the table of the Lord by the Holy Spirit…and made new.  We’d do well to think on that today…and really, every day.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Bob permalink
    October 26, 2012 7:09 am

    The foundation of child likeness is humility. In the soil of humility grows virtue.
    This is also where we find our Lord.
    “humility is the foundation of all other virtue hence, In the soul in which this virtue does not exist there can not be other virtue except in mere appearance” Augustine

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