MARK 10:1-31 (NIV – UK)
1 Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them.
2 Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’
3 ‘What did Moses command you?’ he replied.
4 They said, ‘Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.’
5 ‘It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,’ Jesus replied. 6 ‘But at the beginning of creation God “made them male and female”.[Genesis 1:27] 7 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8 and the two will become one flesh.” [Genesis 2:24] So they are no longer two, but one flesh.9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’
10 When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. 11 He answered, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. 12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.’
The little children and Jesus
13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 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. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.
The rich and the kingdom of God
17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. ‘Good teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’
18 ‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good – except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honour your father and mother.” [Exodus 20:12-16; Deuteronomy 5:16-20]’
20 ‘Teacher,’ he declared, ‘all these I have kept since I was a boy.’
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Jesus looked round and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!’
24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’
26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, ‘Who then can be saved?’
27 Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.’
28 Then Peter spoke up, ‘We have left everything to follow you!’
29 ‘Truly I tell you,’ Jesus replied, ‘no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields – along with persecutions – and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.’
Jesus says: ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these’ (v. 14). By this, Jesus doesn’t mean to say that all children – or even these particular children – will inherit the kingdom of God regardless of whether they trust him or not. Even children need to learn how to trust Jesus! No, what Jesus wants to point us to is a very special quality that children possess.
Think of a child – they grow up dependent on their parents. Their parents are their whole world for the first years of their lives – they eat what their parents give them, they sleep where their parents put them down, they are provided for in various ways by their parents – they ultimately trust in their parents. They don’t question – ‘why is this big person giving me food, water, warmth, comfort?’ No, they just accept.
And this is the quality that Jesus means to point us to. Jesus says: ‘Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it’ (v. 15). To accept the kingdom of God ‘like a little child’ – that is our challenge. As we grow older and enter adulthood we forget what it is to trust like a little child. We begin to learn that the world is a tough place and we must each make what we can out of life – by ourselves. Trusting in a childlike way, therefore, is alien to most of us – but it’s what Jesus wants us to learn. To accept Jesus in that childlike way – in all innocence, trusting in him to provide all we need – that childlike faith is what is required to inherit the kingdom of God. We need to rest in his arms, like a child, and allow him to provide for all our needs.
Question: How childlike do you think your faith in Jesus is? How can you become more childlike in your faith?