Today is the fourth Monday in Lent, and we are beginning Mark chapter 10. Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, and as he comes back near the Jordan River, some Pharisees ask him a question as a kind of trap. They know that John the Baptist got in trouble for criticizing Herod's marriage, and so they try to get Jesus in trouble as well.
King Herod was married to Herodias, a woman who had been his brother's wife. She had divorced his brother Philip so that she could marry Herod. John the Baptist said that was wrong, and Herodias was so angry that she had John killed. I wonder if this question about divorce was a dangerous question for Jesus to answer in public, too?
I wonder why the Pharisees wanted to test Jesus with this question, in this place near the Jordan River where John used to preach and baptize people?
Jesus says that God joins two people in marriage. Marriage isn't just an earthly agreement between two people; it is a promise in which God brings two people together to make something new. In another place, St Paul says that marriage is a picture of how Jesus is united with God's people, the church. I wonder if this is why marriage promises are so important to Jesus?
Jesus tells the Pharisees about God's good design for marriage between people, but he also says that people don't always live out this design. Sometimes we break our marriage promises, or someone breaks the promises they made to us. Can I remember that Jesus cares about marriage promises because they picture his promises to us, and trust that no matter what he will never break those promises or leave me?
I wonder why the disciples told people to stop bringing children to Jesus? Can I picture them standing between the children and Jesus, blocking the way?
Mark tells us that this made Jesus angry. Not frustrated or impatient, but actually angry. Can that be true? Can I believe that Jesus loves me so much that he is angry at anything or anyone that tries to keep me away from him?
Jesus says that children are the ones who know how to receive God's kingdom. That kingdom belongs to them, not powerful, busy, important grownups. Can I ask Jesus to show me how to receive God's good rule today?
How does Jesus's voice sound to me as he says, "Let the little children come to me. Don't keep them away"? Can I believe right now that he is talking about me, too? Can I make my way towards him, knowing that I am welcome?
Are there any words, or pictures, or moments in this story I want to ask God about right now?
Are there any words, or pictures, or moments in this story I want to take with me into the rest of my day?
Jesus of Nazareth, son of God: thank you that we have a book filled with your words and deeds. Give us the wisdom and understanding that comes from your Holy Spirit, so that we can know you better and follow you all the days of our lives. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
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