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Posts Tagged ‘sermon for Pentecost 19B’

Art by Cezero Barredo.
Click the picture to go to his site.

Here is a sermon from my archives about Jesus and the children.  It links Jesus’ call to become as children with his invitation in John 3 to Nicodemus to become a newborn.

A Second Childhood

A Sermon on Mark 9:33-37, 10:13-16 and John 3:1-10

 

Jesus’ disciples had a hard time letting go of wanting to be big men in the Kingdom of God.  Today’s scripture is only one example. Read on in the gospels.  There are more.   But focusing on today’s lessons, in Mark 10, when little people—children—came seeking Jesus, the disciples had already forgotten what Jesus had just said in Mark 9!  There, when Jesus saw that his disciples were arguing about which one of them was the most important in God’s kingdom, Jesus could not have been more clear:  “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all,” he declared.  And then Jesus himself had sought out a little child, taken it in his arms, and added, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and welcomes the one who sent me.”

 

The disciples had already forgotten this when some parents came bringing little children to Jesus.  They were eager for Jesus to touch the children and give them a blessing.  Instead of welcoming them, the disciples shooed them away.

 

I’m sure the disciples meant well.  Jesus was under a great strain.  As he made his way to the site of his death, Jerusalem, crowds of needy people pressed in upon him.  And all along the way Jesus’ opponents kept trying to catch him making a mistake on some point of God’s law.  Even as the parents and children approached, Jesus was fresh from yet another dispute, this time with the Pharisees over the laws pertaining to marriage and divorce.

 

The disciples probably thought they were protecting Jesus by screening the people that came to him.  “Jesus is tired,” they thought, “and his time is too important.  These parents ought to know better than to interrupt!  Jesus shouldn’t be bothered with such small matters.  After all, he’s in the process of launching a great kingdom.”

 

And so the disciples exercised their authority and sternly sent the children and their caregivers away.  “Jesus doesn’t have time to see you today. We’re sorry.”

 

The visitors’ faces fell.  The parents turned, hitched up their babies in slings, hiked up the toddlers on their hips, and took others by the hand.  In their hands the children clutched all the little things they had brought to show Jesus.  Together they set off the way they had come.

 

Perhaps it was the sound of the children crying that caught Jesus’ attention.  He turned from the theological discussion, and when he saw what the disciples had done, he was angry.  This wasn’t a small matter at all.

 

“Let the children come to me!” Jesus exclaimed.  “Do not stop them, for God’s kingdom belongs to them and to those like them.”

 

Christ Jesus was indeed launching a kingdom, but it was not a kingdom of the powerful, wealthy, and highly regarded.  The greatest subjects in Jesus’ kingdom are the least ones: the small, the weak, the lowly.  The poor and the meek, those who hunger and those who mourn are the blessed ones.

 

And here came these least ones, the weakest and the youngest, and the disciples had turned them away.  (more…)

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