Those Whom Jesus Welcomes - Mark 10:13-16

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Matthew, Mark and Luke each share this simple story of Jesus welcoming and blessing children after the disciples had tried to send them away. Mark’s account is the longest, four verses in total. It’s a simple story but it conveys at least two messages that are vitally important.

As Jesus welcomes the children He offers an important example for a culture that didn’t place much value on children. And then He uses the opportunity to convey a significant truth about the way of salvation. 

An Important Example - Jesus welcomes children (10:13-14, 16)

  • The parents – Bringing children to Jesus (v. 13a) – During this time it was common for people to bring children to a Rabbi or a priest for a special blessing. Because of His popularity it’s not surprising that people would bring their children to Jesus. While this story doesn’t provide a legitimate basis for infant baptism or other special ceremonies (as some suggest) it should remind us of the importance of leading our children to Jesus. 
  • The disciples – Keeping children from Jesus (v. 13b) – Once again we see the disciples displaying a poor understanding of the priorities of Jesus – and not long after Jesus had specifically used a child to teach them about humility and servanthood (Mark 9:36-37). 
  • The response of Jesus (vv. 14, 16)
  • His indignation toward the disciples (v. 14a) -It’s not uncommon for Jesus to correct the disciples or to show His disagreement with them, but this is a reaction unlike any other – He was indignant.
  • His welcome of the children (10:14b) – Jesus’s response to the disciples and His welcoming of the children is especially noteworthy given the lowly place children held in this society. They were not highly valued and were often seen as a necessary obligation until they were of ‘useful age;’ yet, Jesus welcomes them.
  • His blessing of the children (10:16) – This is a clear example of Jesus’s compassion and love for children – and for all whom the world may see as insignificant or lowly. What a blessed truth: those who come to Jesus will not be turned away.
  • Application –This account should serve as a reminder to parents and to all of us of the love and care we should have for children. Jesus welcomed children and we should do the same. We should also be ever mindful of the responsibility we have of pointing them to Him.

A Significant Teaching - Jesus welcomes those who come like children (10:14-15) 

  • The Kingdom of God – Twice Jesus refers to the Kingdom of God – it’s something to be received and entered into, but what is it? The Kingdom of God is the reign and rule of God. We can be part of the Kingdom of God now as we acknowledge His rule and reign and one day we will live in the Kingdom of God forever as it is fully established on the earth.
  • How do we enter the Kingdom of God? 
  • The common response – Over and over in the Scriptures we see a common misunderstanding; most believe that entrance into the Kingdom of God is determined by merit or Law-keeping. 
  • The teaching of Jesus – As Jesus welcomes the children He uses the opportunity to make it clear that entrance in Kingdom of God cannot be earned. We must receive the Kingdom like children – with faith like a child (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:4-7; Luke 18:9-14).
  • Daniel Akin[1]– Children are helpless . . . They don’t know all they need, but they know they need the help of another, and they are hopeful they will receive it. They come small, helpless and powerless. They have no clout or standing, and they bring nothing but empty hands. This is appropriate since only empty hands can be filled.

Further Implications

  • We enter by faith and we live by faith – While we affirm and trust in salvation by faith, we may soon find ourselves living as though we must earn God’s love or favor. Having begun by faith we try to be perfected by the flesh instead of trusting in the work of Christ (Galatians 3:2-7).
  • As those who have entered the Kingdom by faith, we should live as faithful citizens of the Kingdom –We have been welcomed into God’s Kingdom we should have lives that reflect His ways (Mt. 5:3-10).
  • As those who have entered the Kingdom by faith, we must share the Gospel of the Kingdom –The command is to share this good news of salvation by faith with all – and this begins with our own children.


[1]Daniel Akin, Exalting Jesus in Mark, Christ-Centered Exposition, Editors, Platt, Akin and Merida, Holman Reference, 2014