Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Jesus Loves the Little Children

Mark 9:36-37 and 42-50
He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me."

"If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones...better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell,where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

"For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another."

Today's passage, is one that many find strange. I cannot begin to plumb the depths of the message it contains in one blog post!

Tragically, some deluded or mentally ill individuals have even taken these instruction literally. To do so is to misunderstand the entire point of Jesus' teaching. Jesus did not contradict God's laws; on the contrary he stated that he came to fulfill them. He knew that evil does not come from body parts--it begins in thought. He continually emphasized that the "letter of the law" is not enough. It is the spirit of the law that truly matters--revealed not just by our outward actions but by our heart's attitude.

Study the words of Jesus carefully and you will see that they are filled with literary devices: similes, metaphors (there is more than one metaphor right in this passage), and hyperbole. Hyperbole is exaggeration for the sake of effect. The strength of Jesus' words is an indication that he feels very deeply about what he is saying. There are no soft words here for those who would deliberately harm a child.

The following prayer is re posted from "Lent and Beyond: An Anglican Prayer Blog."

“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.” (Mark 9:42)
Father, defeat the purposes of all those who would molest children or expose them to pornography. Bring them to repentance, but if they won’t repent, stop them anyway you can.

“If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched” (Mark 9:43)
Holy Spirit, help us recognize and repent of all those patterns of thought and behavior that lead us into sin.

“For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt.” (Mark 9:49)
Jesus, baptize us anew with the fire of your Holy Spirit: cleanse us, refine us, renew us, make us fit for the kingdom of God.

“Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.” (Mark 9:50)
Jesus, anoint and salt us with your peace. Shower down your love on us and give us your peace with one another. Thank you. Amen


LoieJ said...

I'm much too tired to read the posting tonight, but I have to tell you that I love the picture. These classic pictures were part of my childhood Christian education, both in Sunday School and in some books in our house. They are memorable and capture the essence of the story. When my kids were is Sunday School, the lessons usually had sketchier types of pictures, not at all memory making.

Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

PS, I know just what you mean. These kinds of pictures were part of my childhood church experience too. And not it is all cartoons...and often very poorly done cartoons. What is wrong with beauty for kids, I ask you? I love the Jewish man who is stroking his beard and pondering. I thought of him as Nicodemus, or Joseph of Arimethia, listening and thinking and wondering.