13 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.
–Mark 10:13-16 (ESV)
Now there’s something that occurred to me a day or two ago and I’ve been thinking about it every since. I’d like to flesh it out a little bit here. V.14 tell us that when the disciples rebuked ‘them’ for brining children to him that ‘he was indignant’. A fact which garnered from me the off-handed comment ‘that’s not something I would want to deal with’ or something like that. The fact is that an indignant Christ should be the most frightening thing we can conceive. The point that it is over children that Christ gets indignant is made here, I believe, for a couple of reasons.
The first is that he has already discussed the value of children with his disciples. It may have been back in Galilee (ch.9) but surely their memories are not that short. “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,” Jesus said, “it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” (Mark 9:42) You don’t mislead a child on purpose and you’re careful that you don’t do it on accident.
The second is, to pick up an earlier thought, that in a sense he is talking about the Kingdom at this point. His disciples, those who would one day be charged with tending the flock, were standing in the way of children finding him, those of whom Christ said, ‘to such the kingdom of heaven belongs’. Honestly, I’m not much on spiritualizing everything I read in the Word of God. It says what it says and a fellow can get into trouble adding to it. In spite of this, I cannot help but think about all the disciples since who have led Christians astray, even with good intentions and how one of these days they will stand before Christ and see just how indignant he is when the children are kept away.
And this is more, to me, than just a correction of his disciples. This reads as if Jesus is a little ticked that they would even consider it. This is a bad practice in general. “Let the children come to me,” he tells us. Don’t hinder them. Physically, I think this applies—as in regard to children’s church—but doctrinally as well.
So that brings up the third point, which is something that has bothered me for a long time: Parents who stand between Christ and their children.