In the hearts of the disciples, Jesus has excited deep longings. Though He has made some strange remarks about suffering, dying, and resurrection, the things that the disciples have heard are His remarks about the kingdom. Those were after all (they told themselves) the important parts. Jesus has insisted that in Him the long anticipated Kingdom is arriving; that His hearers need to be diligent to enter the Kingdom; that they need to put aside anything that might distract them from entering the Kingdom – plucking out their eyes, lopping off their hands and feet. “Ah,” the disciples are thinking to themselves, “this is good movement language, good rousing language. We’ve got you, Jesus; we’re with you; we’re ready to march into Jerusalem and establish the Kingdom; just tell us what we need to do.”

To top all this off, the Pharisees have come again and tested Jesus, questioning him about divorce and remarriage. And once again Jesus has vindicated His ministry, demonstrated his superior grasp of the Word of God, demonstrated that He is the true spokesman for Israel. Indeed, not only has he confounded the Pharisees, He has been unafraid to criticize the reigning authorities of the day – Herod and Herodias – and has declared clearly what God’s expectations are. Without a doubt, this is the Anointed of God; this is Messiah; the long-awaited kingdom is coming.

It is in this context of vision, passion, and journey toward Jerusalem that some folks come bringing their little children to Jesus so that He can bless them. This frustrates the disciples to no end and they proceed to rebuke those bringing these little children to Jesus at such a critical time. Jesus’ response reveals what our attitude is to be to our children and helps forge a vision for covenantal nurture.