Children as Model (v. 13-15)

The next several sections of Mark 10 build from this story of Jesus and the children.  Jesus interacts with the Rich Young Man and the request of James and John from the principle, “For the kingdom of God belongs to such as these [children]. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Reflection: Are you willing to come to God empty handed and with an open heart?  That is the nature of a child.  The children did not have anything to offer Jesus and asked nothing from Him other than love.  Our insecurity and anxiety are rooted in thinking we must have something to offer.  Our pride and anger are rooted in thinking we can demand particular blessings (of our choosing) from God.

Christian maturity is not relating to God as an adult, but continually relating to God as a child while our adult understanding of God’s character grows.  Adults use knowledge as power – trying to figure God out (control).  Children trust and revel in the relationship.

Disciples Called “Children” (v. 24)

It is very easy to listen to this remark from Jesus and think he is being harsh and condescending.  When we address adults as “children” we are usually insulting them.  However, Jesus is drawing their attention away from the hard command given to the Rich Young Man and back to his statement that the kingdom of God belongs to those with child-like faith.

The Rich Young Man was seeking to please God (“What must I do?”).  The dialogue that followed overwhelmed the disciples. They were desperately thinking “Who then can be saved!”  Jesus says, “Children.”  Those who come to God empty handed and with an open heart.  In order for the Rich Young Man to achieve this empty-handedness he would have had to sell everything.  The focus was not on giving (huge sacrifice), but on humility (not thinking I can offer God something other than my life).

It may be most helpful to think of your service to God as Christmas presents your young children buy you.  They buy the presents with your money, so they really are not giving you anything.  But you love to receive it and see the joy it brings them to give it to you.  The reward it not in their gift but in their giving.

May We Be Great?

After seeing Jesus receive the little children and hearing what he said (Mark 10:14-15); after hearing the culmination of Jesus’ interaction with the Rich Young Man (Mark 10:31); after hearing Jesus predict his torture and death (Mark 10:33-34) – James and John still ask to sit at Jesus’ right and left in glory (Mark 10:37).

What do we learn from this?  Jesus is patient and we don’t get it.  Jesus returns to the over-arching lessons of this chapter (Mark 10:42-25) – the first will be last, the last will be first, child-likeness is out goal, wealth easily distracts us, and leaders are servants.  Jesus knew this concept was so counter to our (sinful) nature that we would need to hear it many times in many ways.

Do you truly believe that greatness is found in service?  Do not answer the question quickly.  Consider these questions to help you discern you heart.

  • How well do you handle having to repeat instructions?
  • Are you easily embarrassed?
  • Do you passively leave unpleasant responsibilities for others?
  • How do you treat others when you are tired?
  • Do you notice the burdens of others?
  • Are you able to empathize with the struggles of others?
  • How do you respond to those who are weak in your area of strength?
  • What have you done without recently for the benefit of another?
  • Do you notice and praise those who serve in front of your kids?
  • Are you still content if your service goes unnoticed?

Introduction to the “Living Our Faith” series.