Yesterday morning I preached from Mark 10:13-16 in our series through Mark’s Gospel. Jesus’ public ministry is now behind Him and the emphasis of His ministry is now focused on preparing His disciples for what is before Him, namely the suffering and shameful death by crucifixion. In order to prepare them, Jesus is not only telling them about His death and resurrection, but He is also teaching them specific spiritual lessons that would help them in the days that would follow.
The paragraph of Mark 10:13-16 begins with parents constantly bringing children to Jesus in order that they might be blessed by Jesus. This was a traditional practice among the Jews and it dated back to when the patriarch Israel laid his hands upon the heads of Ephraim and Manasseh and blessed them (Gen. 48:14). Although the parents were not followers of Christ, they were seeking to care for their children spiritually. Perhaps some of these families believed the gospel once it was made known specifically who Jesus really is.
We can learn much from the spiritual desire of the parents in this text. Deuteronomy 6 provides us a clear pattern to follow in the discipleship of our children. We must be diligently teaching them the truth of God’s redemptive plan. Jonathan Edwards once said, “Every Christian family ought to be as it were a little church.” The practice of teaching and instructing our children in God’s Word is extremely important. Charles Spurgeon, in his sermon on Mark 10:13-16 recounts Sunday afternoons with his mother:
I cannot tell you how much I owe to the solemn words of my good mother. It was the custom on Sunday evenings, while we were yet little children, for her to stay at home with us, and then we sat round the table and read verse by verse, and she explained the Scripture to us. After that was done, then came the time of pleading; there was a little piece of “Alleyn’s Alarm,” or of “Baxter’s Call to the Unconverted,” and this was read with pointed observations made to each of us as we sat round the table; and the question was asked how long it would be before we would think about our state, how long before we would seek the Lord. Then came a mother’s prayer, and some of the words of a mother’s prayer we shall never forget, even when our hair is grey.
The problem arose when the disciples decided to send the children away. Perhaps they were looking out for Jesus’ time and trying to not overwhelm Him, but as they rebuked the parents and sent them away, it caused Jesus to become indignant with them. He had to set the record straight. He said, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14). Jesus went on to make a profound statement about entrance into God’s Kingdom. He said, “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (Mark 10:15).
Jesus took the opportunity to teach about the way a person enters the Kingdom of God. This text is not about pedobaptism because the common word for baptize is not used by Jesus or any of the disciples one time in this entire scene. Charles Spurgeon comments on Mark 10:13-16 by saying: “This text has not the shadow of the shade of the ghost of a connection with baptism.” It’s abundantly clear, this text is about how a person enters the Kingdom of God.
The point was clear, you must enter God’s Kingdom like a child. A child had no position of power to offer Jesus, no political agenda to benefit Jesus, no financial wealth to extend to Jesus, the child has nothing that will benefit himself in Jesus’ eyes. Therefore, we must be stripped of pride and self-worth as we repent and come to Christ. We can’t come with prized possessions in our hands or works to offer Jesus. We must simply admit our sinful condition and cast ourselves as helpless and hopeless children upon the mercy of God.
Jesus then takes the children into His arms and blesses them by laying His hands on them. He continues the illustration by showing love to children who had no agenda or self-worth to offer Him. And, to fulfill the Jewish tradition, He laid His hands on them and blessed them.
Have you been brought to a point of approaching Jesus in your weakness, humility, guilt, and like a child, casting yourself upon the mercy of God? Jesus has made it crystal clear in His preaching. Unless a person comes to God in that manner, they will not enter the Kingdom of God.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.