“Then [Jesus] took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’” Mark 9:36
Over the Labor Day weekend, my family celebrated two birthdays, the birthdays of two of my granddaughters. One granddaughter turned ten years old that weekend, and another turned four years old the following day. We celebrated two special little girls! In our society, where we adore and celebrate our children, it is hard to imagine that biblical historians tell us that this was not always the case.
Although undoubtedly loved and cared for, children in biblical times had a very low status in society; they were not “socially esteemed” as one source of mine put it. That is hardly the case today as we see social media posts sharing the exploits and achievements and stories of children and grandchildren, while we tell one another of the humorous or cute or sometimes scary antics that we encounter among our children.
In Mark’s gospel, Jesus took a little child in his arms and told his disciples that they should welcome children. That was perhaps confusing for the disciples, given the status (or lack thereof) that children had in that culture. What an opportunity for those disciples to see a Savior who celebrated and welcomed someone who had no social status! What an opportunity for those disciples to see the abundant grace and mercy of the Son of God, the one sent by the Father! What an opportunity for those disciples to hear and to witness that if children were welcomed, then how much would others be welcomed into the kingdom as well!
The Apostle Paul reminds us of how welcomed we are into God’s kingdom of forgiveness and salvation when he wrote in the book of Romans, “When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” Romans 8:15-17
We are not only welcomed, but we are made children of God; as children we share in all that Christ is and all that Christ has! What a celebration!
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