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Lenten Reflections Project 2022

Sunday | March 27 | Josh Brake

Mark 10:13-16

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.
Who do you identify with in this passage? There are three main character groups, the disciples, the children, and Jesus, and each have something to teach us. Over the past few years I've been thinking a lot about how to steward my time and attention well. Time is our greatest non-renewable resource, but sometimes in the pursuit of efficiency or productivity, we can easily lose track of what really matters.

First, the disciples. At this point in the Gospels, these guys have seen some pretty substantial miracles from Jesus. They've seen him heal the sick, multiply food for the hungry, and demonstrate deep insight into the Hebrew scriptures. Even if they don't yet get the whole picture, they know Jesus is someone special and long-awaited. But as is often the case, they only get it about 50% right here. I'm sure they were trying to do a good thing by fencing Jesus from the needy people clamoring for his attention, but the passage says that Jesus wasn't just mildly displeased with them but that he was “indignant.”

The second main character group is the children. We're not told how many children are here or what ages they are, but I imagine a group of elementary-school-age kids: old enough to have some idea about the importance of the man they were approaching but not yet old enough to develop the adolescent inhibition or apathy that would make them much more hesitant to approach someone like Jesus. I imagine Jesus laughing and playing with the kids and these kids absolutely feasting on his attention and care for them. Their innocence and child-like naïveté enables them to engage with Jesus without needing to put up any fronts: they just are their authentic selves with him.

The third character in the story is Jesus. Jesus makes time. Even knowing that his time on earth is short and that he has much to do on his journey to the cross outside Jerusalem, Jesus not only embraces the kids that manage to squeeze through the human wall the disciples sought to keep around him, but invites even more children to come. If Jesus has time and attention for those deemed unimportant by society, surely we can find time in our carefully curated calendars.

Each character in this story has something to teach us. As someone who relates to the disciples in this passage, I’m sure there were times where Jesus did appreciate some cover to find time alone away from people. As great as it is to have a bunch of kids climbing all over you, we all need time away from them to recharge. But, I’m challenged that I likely often fence my time too strictly and thus miss out on the opportunity to demonstrate the level of engagement and attention that Jesus gives to the children.

The children teach us to approach the world with wonder, joy, and curiosity. They are not phased by the disciples’ rebuffing, but push through to see what is going on. They are persistent and driven to experience the presence of Jesus in a way that I think we often are not.

And of course Jesus has something to teach us. Sure, he didn’t have to fight the addictive allure of the Wordle of the day, but nevertheless I’m sure that he had plenty of other people or things he could be paying attention to. Jesus inspires me to pay attention and this passage reminds me that people, especially those who don’t have anything to give us, are beloved sons and daughters in our God’s eyes and worthy of our attention.

I hope that you, like me, are challenged to create space in this Lenten season to reflect on your practices; to deepen the areas where you may feel weakness and to curtail the places where you are either focusing yourself inward or not engaging to the extent that God might be calling you to. And in an exhortation that I am speaking as much to myself as to you, next time you are hanging around with some kids, put your phone down as you remember Jesus’ example and give them your full attention. May we all see the kingdom more clearly through their bright, curious little eyes.

Josh Brake is husband to Abbey and dad to Judah and Chloe. Originally from Connecticut, he and his wife Abbey have lived in Pasadena and attended Grace since the fall of 2014. He is also an Assistant Professor of Engineering at Harvey Mudd College where his work is focused on experiential engineering, primarily in the areas of embedded systems and biomedical optics. Outside the classroom, he loves mentoring students and helping them to grow academically and personally. When he’s not spending time with his family or at school, you’ll likely find him reading, riding his bike, running, roasting/drinking coffee, or writing about the deep life at