Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…
“Then little children were being brought to Jesus in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them.” Matthew 19:13
It was there from the earliest days of the Christian movement; I guess one might say that we come by it naturally. We feel the need to protect Jesus. The faithful, the institutional church, good God-fearing Christians, somehow came to the conclusion that the master of the universe needed protection. Did this Rabbi need bodyguards? In the end, it seems that he did, but the disciples were never asked to perform this service, and when real danger appeared, they disappeared into the darkness.
Children were not highly regarded in Jesus’ day. Half of them would not live to adulthood. They were poor investments that needed to be fed and cared for. Children, women, old men, and aging slaves were viewed as burdens on society. They had little or no value. In Greece and Rome, it was accepted practice to abandon unwanted children along the roadside to die.
The disciples wanted to protect their Rabbi from wasted time and wasted energy. An alternative translation says that they “scolded those who brought them.” Scolded the women, because the women were the only ones who cared for and loved the children.
Protecting Jesus is an interesting concept. We come by it naturally.
One of my guiding principles in leading a community of faith is that God DOES NOT NEED my protection. There is a great debate in the Christian Church regarding the legitimacy of online worship. Specifically, the debate revolves around the sharing of Holy Communion across the airwaves. Does Jesus really show up in the bread and wine only if it is served in the church, or might Jesus travel by way of the internet? If I thought that the body and blood of Jesus needed my protection, I may have entered the debate, but I don’t, so I haven’t. I think that Jesus can take care of himself.
Protecting Jesus is an interesting concept. We come by it naturally and we attempt it awkwardly. The church decided that it needed to protect Jesus from sinners. The church decided that it needed to protect Jesus from those who were divorced. The church decided that it needed to protect Jesus from the children of God who were gay or lesbian. For Christ’s sake the church should mind its own business and preach the gospel, feed the hungry, and tend to the sick. Good Christians, under the guise of “protecting Jesus,” try to prevent access to Jesus. In fact, the good Christians are self-righteously trying to protect themselves from being counted among the sinners.
“Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.’” “Such as these?” That means the children and the women and old men and the slaves. The care and concern that Jesus showed for children is found nowhere else in the ancient world.
“Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.”
D.T. Niles. Protecting Jesus, protecting the church? Strange concept, may God forgive us.