What’s on your “pet peeve” list? People who talk during movies? Goobers who daydream at red lights and cause you to be stuck at an intersection? Or maybe you reserve your righteous anger for truly horrific crimes, like genocide. Me? I really have trouble keeping my cool when someone stops in order to make a right turn. Come on people! You’re supposed to slow down just a little, make the turn, and then speed up halfway through. OK, I’m calming down now. . .
If you’re going to call yourself a follower of Christ, then shouldn’t you find out what’s on his “list” as well? What ticked Jesus off? What got his blood boiling?
There are very few instances of the Master actually getting angry in the Gospels. Of course, he’s God, so anything you read about the Almighty and his righteous anger, such as in the Psalms, applies as well. But the Incarnation was a unique chance for us to see God-in-the flesh as he interacted with the daily frustrations of life. If you’ve read the Gospels, you know that he had plenty of provocations from the religious leaders. But there are only three times in the Gospels where it’s recorded that Jesus actually got angry.
One of them was when he healed the man with a shriveled hand, which we’ve already examined. One of them is when he cleared out the temple. We’ll get to that in about a week. The third is the instance here.
Now I want to remind you that Mark points out that Jesus was a busy man. The crowds were all over him day and night, and he had to literally sneak away in order to find any alone time with his disciples. And even then the crowds searched him out and located him. He even found it hard to find time to eat.
He was following the Father’s plan, and part of that plan was limiting himself in time and space. That means he only had a limited amount of time to spend with each person. It was a zero-sum game: If he spent time with person A, that meant less time for everyone else. And like any important and famous person, he required “handlers” who screened his contacts.
That’s the context for this story. We might tend to look with sympathy on the disciples. Some parents brought their children for Jesus to bless them. The disciples' thinking, not unreasonably, was that the Master had more important things to do.
And when Jesus found out about this, he was “indignant.” He was upset with his disciples for turning away children from his presence. His priorities and their priorities were in conflict, and it was theirs that needed to change. In his mind, he always had time for children. Not just because of some politically correct “Children are our future” pabulum, but because they’re a model for us. If we don’t follow their example in simple trust and dropping of pretense, we’ll never make it into God’s Kingdom.
So here’s the tough question: Are his priorities in sync with ours? Are we making Christ angry by turning children away from him? Maybe not physically, but we can certainly influence them towards or away from him by our example.
And do you need to rediscover that childlike faith? Maybe you’re already saved, but you’ve forgotten what it means just to rest in his presence, to enjoy that intimacy like a child sitting on his Papa's lap. Yes, following him means active obedience. But it starts with simple trust in him and abandoning this silly pretense that we’re stronger than we really are.
Lord Jesus, I’m here. Let me just rest at your feet for a while, all right? Right now I’m not asking for anything but you.
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