41. Mark 10:13-16: Like a Little Child
Again, the disciples demonstrate their shortsightedness by rudely rebuffing those bringing children to be touched (blessed, v.16) by Jesus. He is “indignant” at this behavior. In the earlier passage about children (9:33ff.) Jesus taught them to welcome the nobodies and throwaways of the world as they would him or his Father.
Like the blind person needing two touches by Jesus to see clearly, the disciples need a second lesson on welcoming those regarded by the rest as having no worth or value. Thus Jesus gathers the children in his arms, laid hands of blessing on them.
Then he adds a final piece to their instruction. Solemnly (“Truly I tell you”) he tells them, “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” Only those “who make no claims, unself-consciously assume their own utter dependence, and are not concerned about rank, status, and self-image” (Boring, Mark:8139-8141). Only those can receive others who know they are received by God though they have no grounds to stand on before him.
Grace. Yes, that’s the word for it. Grace. Only those graced to become like children will enter the kingdom, Jesus says. And only such can truly welcome other “children” into it.