Grace and peace to you from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
This morning, we baptize Lillian and Sophia, and welcome them and their family to our congregation. In Mark’s Gospel, the disciples are having a problem with children. I imagine they don’t want the children to bother Jesus. After all, in the passage just before, what we read was that Jesus is in a deep serious theological dispute with the Pharisees. And children are not known for their ability to sit still and be quiet. So, the disciples start herding the mothers and their children away from Jesus. Jesus notices what they are doing and immediately stops his discussion, rebuking the disciples saying, “Let the 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.”
This is not the first time Jesus has used a child to explain something to the disciples. In Chapter 9, we hear Jesus criticizing the disciples for arguing about which of them is the greatest. Jesus actually brings a child into the midst of them, saying, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put the child among them, and taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me, welcomes not only me, but the one who sent me.”
For me, I think what Jesus is saying is that until we can let our guard down, and stop trying to prove we are better or smarter than anyone else, we cannot understand what the Kingdom of God is actually about. All through the Gospels, we hear Jesus say over and over again he has come to save the least, the last, and the lost. This is such a radical shift from what the world tells us—that we must be first, and strongest, and best, or we are worthless.
Jesus is about love for all humanity. So instead of trying to separate ourselves from each other… if we want to be part of the kingdom of God, we need to come together to love one another as God loves us. And care for those who the world calls the least, the last, and the lowly. That is the way we become part of the Kingdom of God. Amen.