The Interruptible Jesus
Dr. Stephen Johnson
Mark 10:13-16
May 31, 2020

As I reflected on our text for this morning I was struck by an attribute of God which is seldom listed in articles describing God.

A quick search will show some lists of 10 or 15 attributes of God.

Spurgeon, who preached at a time when people were not so caught up in sound bytes and keeping things short, had a list of 25 attributes of God.

Those of us who have studied scripture have found numerous clues to the attributes of God.  Many are well known – perhaps because they really sound pretty cool.

Like omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent.

Immutable, Impartial, Incomprehensible, and Infinite 

Others are more enjoyable because we can grasp them with ease.  He is faithful, He is just, He is merciful, He is gracious, He is holy, loving and good.

See if you can discern the attribute of God referenced in our text for this morning but not included one I’ve just named.

Our text is Mark 10:113-16

"And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them and the disciples rebuked them. 

But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.

Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.

And he took them in his arms and blessed them laying his hands on them."

This is the word of God.

The attribute I see here:

Our God is interruptible.

I’ll get back to that in a few minutes, but let’s dive into our text for some interesting observations.

Although we don’t really see it in our English translations, our text opens with a significant use of the plural pronoun “they”

The reason it is significant is that although in English “they” is not gender specific, in Greek it is.

And the gender Mark, under the inspiration of the Hoy Spirit, used is male.

The implication of this is that those who were bringing the children to Jesus were most likely the fathers.

And if they weren’t the fathers, they were, at the very least, older brothers or uncles.

Although this is not the main point of this passage it does remind us of the significant role fathers play in the faith development of their children.

It is common today for people to say that they don’t want to force their faith on their children, that they want their kids to make their own decision.

And there are examples aplenty of children raised in Christian homes who have later in life rebelled or outright rejected the faith of their fathers.

And that is sad, but it doesn’t make the faith of the fathers null and void.

Just like teaching your child to brush their teeth or use deodorant or how to discern between right and wrong, fathers have a responsibility to bring their kids to Jesus if at all possible.

It is not a task which we should relegate to our wives or to the church.  We as fathers need to take an active role in the spiritual upbringing of our children.

That’s just a little side note which comes from our text this morning.

Now I want to draw your attention to three more observations from the text which are not dependent upon your knowledge of Greek to be understood. 

  1. Jesus rebukes those trying to protect him

The fathers are bringing their children to Jesus so that he will bless them – a long standing tradition across centuries.

Yet the disciples noted a problem

Jesus was busy.  He had things to do. Lessons to teach.

So they rebuked those who had brought the children to Jesus.

It seemed like a reasonable idea.  To protect Jesus from the crowd around him.

It is much the same way in our world today.  Famous or important  people often have some sort of entourage that surrounds them and protects them from the riff raff of society.

There were simply too many people pressing in for Jesus’ attention. 

And these were children. 

They couldn’t possibly understand Jesus –

In the society of that day children were unimportant.

Protecting Jesus from the intrusion seemed like a good idea.

And this is not the first time they would try to protect Jesus.

Back in chapter 8:33 it was Peter who tried to rebuke Jesus after Jesus announced what was going to happen to him once they got to Jerusalem

Peter seemingly wanted to keep Jesus safe.

Maybe they didn’t have to go to Jerusalem.

Then in chapter 9:38 it is John who tells Jesus that they were trying to protect the reputation of Jesus by telling someone who had been casting out demons to stop it.

Yet in each incident Jesus responds to the disciples by essentially telling them to quit trying to protect him.

It is not our responsibility to protect Jesus

He can take care of himself!

Our responsibility is to live our lives in such a way that we bring honor to Christ.

But we don’t have to try to protect him.

He is actually there to protect us.

The disciples simply didn’t understand the heart of Jesus.

They didn’t understand the strength of Jesus.

The text tells us that Jesus was indignant.

The term is used 7 times in the Gospels, and only here is it used of Jesus.

In Matthew 20 and later in Mark 10 the ten disciples are indignant that James and John should want to sit at the right and left hand of Jesus.

In Matthew 21 the scribes and Pharisees are indignant on Palm Sunday because of the wonderful deeds Jesus did and the response of the crowds.

In Matthew 26 and again in Mark 14 some of the disciples are indignant that a woman would waste an alabaster jar of perfume on Jesus.

They showed great displeasure.

They were upset.

Vexed in spirit that anyone would do such a thing.

The action was unjust – unworthy – irresponsible.

How could the disciples try to keep children from Jesus?

So he rebukes them.

“Do not hinder them.”

In Mark 9 after John boasted about stopping another from casting out demons in the name of Christ, he said:

“Do no stop him.”

In Mark 8 after Peter rebuked Jesus, he said:

“Get behind me Satan.”

Remember, we don’t need to protect Jesus!

Jesus rebukes those who seek to protect him.

Next we see that

2. Jesus relishes interruptions

See, I told you I would get back to that unnamed attribute of God.

Jesus was always interruptible.

And he never seems to be bothered by interruptions.

You remember in Luke 5 when Jesus is teaching in a home and some guys cut a hole through the roof to lower a guy down to Jesus.  And Jesus simply uses the incident to illustrate the lessons he was teaching.

In Luke 8:22 and following Jesus is taking a nap in the boat with his disciples.  I can imagine him instructing the disciples as they set out – let me sleep.

But a storm comes up and the seasoned fishermen wake him up to help.

So he just calms the storm.

In Luke 12 he is teaching his disciples when someone in the crowd interrupts to ask him to settle a family dispute.  And Jesus uses the incident to teach once again.

In Mark 1 Jesus has gone away to pray – and even his prayer time gets interrupted – so Jesus simply ends his prayer time and goes back to preaching.

And later in Mark 10, when Jesus is leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus calls out to him.   The disciples and the crown told him to be silent, but Jesus accepts the interruption and gives the man his sight.

Throughout his ministry it seems that Jesus relished interruptions.

So often we are put off by interruptions.

Of course it depends on the importance we place on what we are saying or doing and the intention of the one who is interrupting us.

Was there ever a time when what Jesus was doing wasn’t important?

When his teaching should be interrupted?

Humanly speaking interruptions are rude.

They are something to be dealt with by our protectors.

But not with Jesus.

He seemed to relish those interruptions where he could show the value he placed in children.

The value he placed in women.

The value he placed in the downcast and hurting of the world.

His teaching was important, but so also was his love and care for those who sought him.

His willingness to be interrupted had an impact upon the disciples.  In Acts 3:1-10 we read of Peter and John on their way to the temple to pray.

A noble and important task.

And along the way they are interrupted by a man who had been lame from birth.

Now, they could have rationalized that prayer was more important than some guy asking for alms.

But instead the turned the interruption into an tremendous opportunity.

Perhaps we ought to take a more positive view of the interruptions in our lives.

Jesus is never “thrown for a loop” when he is interrupted.

He doesn’t lose His temper.

He doesn’t get upset.

He merely adjusts.

He used each interruption as an occasion for to minister to someone in need.

If we aren't careful, we'll see interruptions as irritations rather than invitations to reflect the character of Jesus.

Jesus rebukes those who seek to protect him

Jesus relishes life’s interruptions

And finally

Jesus rewards childlike faith.

Since the text is about fathers bringing their children to Jesus to be blessed and Jesus encouraging it, you know we had to get around to childlike faith eventually.

In just a couple of verses Jesus lays down some significant theology about the kingdom of God and the power of faith.

Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.

Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it

The kingdom of God belongs to those who accept or receive it as a child.

Children are receptive and dependent.

They have not earned anything.

They are full of trust.

They seldom overthink their faith.

Children are totally dependent upon others for their well-being.

Remember, Jesus is holding a small child in his arms as he says this.

There are no precocious babies.

There are some really smart babies but none are able to survive without the help of others.

Jesus recognizes this fact as he says that the kingdom of God belongs to those who, with childlike faith know they have done nothing to deserve the kingdom.

Those with childlike faith receive the kingdom.

It is a free gift.

Given by a God who offers it to all who will come to him.

Like the food given to a child it is a gift. 

It must be simply accepted.

This is in keeping with the full teaching of scripture.

Salvation comes to those who believe not those who do.

Salvation is not the result of works but of faith.

Faith like that of a child.

Jesus rewards childlike faith.

Childlike faith is content to be dependent upon another’s care, grace and mercy.

Unfortunately, as we grow we often rebel against childlike faith.

We think we need to perform in order to enter the kingdom of God.

But that is not what Jesus says.

The kingdom of God belongs to children and others like them who are of no apparent importance, because they have simply believed.

It is given to those who have no claim on it.

Jesus rebukes those who seek to protect him.

Jesus relishes interruptions.

Jesus rewards those with childlike faith.

As we make these observations, I find myself asking, yeah, but so what?

How do we apply these observations to our life? 

I want to impress upon you two conclusions about interruptions for our lives today.

Since Jesus relishes interruptions we should be willing to interrupt him.

Often we don’t want to bother Jesus with our problems.

We know that we are told to bring all our requests to him, but he’s pretty busy and our requests are so small.

Compared to what is happening, say in China where believers are put in prison and not heard from again, how important is that headache we wish Jesus would just take away.

Since Jesus relishes interruptions, our prayers are never too small.

Our needs are never insignificant to him.

Each of us in important to Jesus.

In a time when the rights of children and women were minimal at best, Jesus always made time for them.  Certainly, he will make time for you.

And if Jesus welcomed interruptions in his life, perhaps as we seek to follow in his footsteps, we should relish the interruptions that come into our lives.

Perhaps protecting our daily schedule with excessive boundaries isn’t as Christlike as leaving enough margin in your life to allow for divine interruptions.

Perhaps we should start seeing the interruptions of life as a blessing rather than a curse.

And in childlike faith we can anticipate that Jesus will cause all things to work together for good, because he rewards our faith with his kingdom.


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