Jesus Blesses the Little Children

Mark provides a series of parables in chronological order matched to the overall story of the Bible. This one is about the children who crossed the Jordan.

The Story

13And they brought little children to him, that he might touch them; but his disciples rebuked those who brought them. 14But when Joshua saw it, he was displeased, and he said to them, Allow the little children to come to me, and do not forbid them; for the kingdom of god is for such as these. 15Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of god like a little child will not enter it. Mark 10:13-15

Background

This parable continues the earlier discussion of Marriage. Immediately before this parable Jesus had been discussing with the Pharisees and then the disciples about Marriage. Divorce, the subject of that parable, had been the action of the people immediately after crossing the Red Sea.

Because they were hard of heart, the people of the time where forced to wander around in the desert until 40 years had passed since the crossing of the Red Sea. During that time the adults who were in their 20th year or older at the time of the Exodus died off, leaving only those who were children at the time of the Exodus.

Of course some of those children were now much older. The year indicated here is 9040 AA, or 40 years after leaving Egypt. Those who had been in their 19th year at the time of the Exodus were now in their 59th year, marking the upper age of those who would conquer Canaan. Soon after the crossing of the Jordan river some of those in their 59th year would be passing into their 60th year. Some, too, had also been born in the desert, those who had not reached their 41st year.

Jesus uses the little children around him to drive home the point of the earlier parable. Those who are like little children in regards to sin, in this case the sin of adultery towards God, these children will enter the Kingdom of God.

Properly understood, Jesus is not making the point that only little children can be saved. Indeed, at the time of the Jordan river crossing there were people up to their 59th year. Even people of that age can enter into the Kingdom of God, but they must do so without committing adultery towards God, they must not chase after foreign gods.

Notes on Adultery

Note that the young people at the time of the exodus, those in their 19th year or below, are not old enough to enter into binding covenants. Adultery, at the core, is a disrespect of covenant.

Paul talks about this in different terms. Once you’ve tasted of the heavenly gifts the end is worse than if nothing had ever happened.Hebrews 6:4-6

The base parable is this Exodus story. For the generation that left Egypt, and were old enough to enter into a binding covenant at the Red Sea crossing, it would have been better if nothing had ever happened than to wander in the desert. God seems to forgive wandering by children and those not under covenant. Wandering away to other gods when we are older and know better is what can cause great grief.

Phil Stone, Updated 2016-11-06