Monday 07 November 2016

Bible Book:

“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.’” (v. 14)

Matthew 19:13-15 Monday 7 November 2016

Psalm: Psalm 42


Apart from one parable unique to Matthew's Gospel, most of thestories in Matthew chapters 19 and 20 - including their order - are'parallel passages' copied from the earlier Gospel of Mark (Markchapter 10). Mark's Gospel tells these stories as part of anarrative pattern which lasts from Peter's confession of faith thatJesus is the Messiah (Mark8:27-30) up until Jesus's entry into Jerusalem (Mark11:1-11). What is this pattern? On three occasions Jesuspredicts he is going to die (Mark 8:31-32a;9:30-31; 10:32-34); the disciples misunderstand (Mark8:32b-33; 9:32-34; 10:35-40); and Jesus responds withinstructions on discipleship - both in theory and practice (Mark8:34 - 9:29; 9:35 - 10:31; 10:41-45). As Matthew edits Mark'smaterial, he tells us that this second set of instructions aboutdiscipleship took place as Jesus leaves Galilee to head towardsJerusalem (Matthew 19:1; 20:17).

So what does today's passage - the story of the blessing of thechildren - teach us about discipleship and the community of graceof which we are part?

People are bringing children to Jesus in the same way that theytook them to the scribes on the eve of the Day of Atonement, themost solemn day in the year when Jews ask for God's forgiveness forall their sins. Were the disciples objecting to Jesus being treatedas a mere scribe?

Jesus accepts the children because "to such as these" belongsthe kingdom of heaven. Is it because only children would call God"Abba" ("Daddy") with absolute trust and confidence? Or is itbecause children lack the self-importance of adults? Remember, too,that in law (both ancient and modern) children are minors, cannotassert the same rights as adults, and are expected to deny theirown wishes and obey those who care for them. One theologian,Joachim Jeremias, has suggested that "only to those whose wholelife is a Day of Atonement, a becoming small before God, is entryunder God's rule guaranteed".

To Ponder

  • Why do you think the disciples tried to stop the children fromcoming to Jesus?
  • In what ways do adults of today prevent children from coming toJesus?
  • Jesus' disciples weren't always as welcoming as they ought tobe. If he were here today, who else would he accuse his disciplesof failing to welcome? If you go to church, how inclusive is yourcommunity of disciples?
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