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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Mark 10:1–16          

He left that place and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan. And crowds again gathered around him; and, as was his custom, he again taught them.

Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them. (NRSV)

Much in the book of Mark concerns how Jesus’ plain spoken messages were met with opposition by elders and rulers. In this scripture the elders try to entrap Jesus with clever arguments about divorce. But Jesus makes clear that they are attempting to put their own traditions in place of God’s law.

Jesus even had to rebuke his own disciples when it came to allowing children access to him. Children were to be seen but not heard in Jesus’ day. The disciples were concerned that little children couldn’t understand Jesus’ teachings and were just a distraction to him.

These children demonstrated perfectly what Jesus wanted his adult audience to understand. Children operate in permanent “receive mode.” They rely completely on their parents or caregivers to meet all their needs and don’t stop to wonder whether they “deserve” this care. Jesus tells us that we need to receive the kingdom of God with this child-like faith that doesn’t ask if we are worthy of his blessing. Jesus desires us to understand that God wants us to entrust all of our problems to him, with a child’s unwavering faith that he can fix anything. We can’t receive the kingdom of God by any action we take or any attempt to earn our way in. We must receive the kingdom of God as a little child, accepting God’s grace with understanding that this is the only way.

Heavenly Father, teach me to receive the blessing of Jesus, knowing I am not worthy. Lead me to embrace at face value the words I was taught as a little child, “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.” Amen.

Written by Sarah Younger, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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