The disciples turned the little children way.
We see them do it and know, just from the rhythm of the gospels, that it's going to turn out to be a mistake. Turning people away from Jesus always seems to be a mistake.
But I resonate with the disciples. I too have people I'm tempted to turn away.
In the previous two stories in Luke 18, we've heard about God's justice and his mercy. God has shown kindness toward two of the three ancient protected classes: widow and foreigner. The third protected class - orphans - comes into view here.
Orphans, and children in general, are the class of people we most protect as a society. We'll put our widows in nursing homes and erect electrified, razor-wired fences to turn immigrants away, but abandon kids ... turn them away ... not here. "Monsters" that's what we call people who hurt children. We protect them fiercly. And so, this action by the disciples is almost incomprehensible to us.
But perhaps they had understandable motives. Laying hands on healthy kids may not have been a high priority (mission limit). The kids, with their lives before them, might come back later, freeing the disciples to minister to people closer to death (time limit). Jesus is clearly called to preaching and savioring, so maybe he shouldn't do kids' ministry (gift limit).
And before we condemn the disciples, remember that many churches won't welcome crying babies on the front row during the sermon or in the center of the Bible Study circle. We all have limits. Priorities, opportunities and calling influence who we feel we can welcome. So we turn people away.
But we have to be on guard against the subtle pull of favoritism. If we're not careful, we'll never find ourselves prepared to receive children. And God seems to find that troubling.
Why do you think it's important that Jesus welcomed children?
This post is one of several reflecting on Luke 18, which the InterVarsity Florida Divisional Staff Team studied during one of our days together this Fall.