Mark 10:1-16: Let the Children Come to Me
May 2, 2021
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
As was Jesus’ custom, when he saw a crowd he taught them (10:1). So many times when we see a crowd, our desire is for them to be entertained or motivated or inspired. But Jesus was a teacher and a preacher. And as such, when he saw a crowd, as was his custom, he taught them.
The Pharisees—the religious leaders of the time—came up to him to test him. They had a particularly difficult question to ask him, to see if they could trap and trick him into losing popularity or saying something that was wrong. Those who want to learn come to listen. Those who want to trap or trick come with questions that are the questions of the learner but are the tests of the Pharisee.
This question is about divorce. Jesus asks them what Moses said. They give their summary of the teaching of Deuteronomy 24. Jesus quickly explains that Moses’ teaching was not by way of encouragement of divorce but due to the “hardness of heart.”
If you read the relevant section in Deuteronomy 24 carefully, you can see that Moses is regulating a practice, not approving of a practice. Given the fallen nature of humanity, given our hardness of heart, he found a way to protect a woman against the worse victimization of divorce by insisting she has a certificate of divorce at least. Jesus explains marriage by going back to the Creator’s intention.
Note well Jesus’ approach. Any time we have questions about God’s intention with regard to sexuality, we are to follow Jesus’ model. Go back to Genesis chapter 2 and find there the original template of marriage: one man, one woman, under God, for life. “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
When Jesus asked about this teaching further with his disciples, Jesus tells them that because of this one woman-one man for life model, the marriage of a divorced person is in essence adultery. Many people believe that Jesus’ teaching in Matthew’s Gospel (Matthew 5:32; Matthew 19:3-12) provides the possibility of an exception to this rule: except for marital unfaithfulness. This is not the place to teach on the biblical approach to divorce and remarriage as a whole. In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus knows that people—all of us sinners—are hard hearted, and yet at the same time he holds up God’s ideal intention for marriage.
As if if to underscore how important is marriage, children now are brought to Jesus. The disciples don’t want him to be bothered by squawking little ones, but Jesus insists, “let the children come to me.” In fact, the kingdom of God is made of such as these, and to enter the kingdom of God means to receive it as a child. This does not mean that we are to be innocent like children (for children, as any parent knows, are far from innocent and blameless); nor does it mean that we are to throw out education and become unsophisticated ignoramuses to enter the kingdom (for, as Jesus has shown, he is a teacher who is teaching the truth). What children have that we all must have to enter the kingdom is faith. They tend to trust; and to enter then kingdom of God we must trust too.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
To receive God Centered Life devotionals directly in your inbox, as well as other resources, enter your email address in the form at the bottom of this page and click "subscribe."