The text before us today speaks strongly about what God expects of his people. It also shows us that he graciously offers his mercy even to those who do not understand it.
This text seems to have two separate themes; one about divorce and the other about mothers bringing their children to Jesus. Some of you may wish to preach these texts on two different occasions. Yet I believe they can be preached as one. No doubt the compilers of this pericope series combined them on purpose.
This text comes in a section of Mark in which Jesus speaks about what it means to be a disciple. Up through Mark 8:33, Jesus has been showing himself to be the Messiah. With the words of Mark 8:34 he begins a new section that shows how difficult, yes we might say, impossible from a human point of view, it is to be a disciple in this kingdom. “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” (Mark 8:34-35)
So we come to our text today which falls into this section about what it means to be a disciple. Moses was tough when people came to him for a certificate of divorce. But Jesus was even tougher when the disciples questioned him. The Pharisees came looking for rules; laws they could live by. Jesus didn’t give any wiggle-room. “What God has joined together, let man not separate.”
I don’t think the section of the text about the children is an accident. The kingdom of God does not come to those who try to keep the rules. “Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.” It’s all about GRACE!