As adults, our faith is often exercised with a sense of drudgery. That’s because we have accumulated a lifetime of disappointments and hurt feelings, of betrayals and pain. But the faith of a child is marked by a joyful kind of expectation. Children ask for something and then wait in excitement to see the response. Conversely, we tentatively make requests and then wait for the other shoe to drop.
Picture the scene with me. It’s another busy day in the life of Jesus. His reputation has spread; He scarcely has a moment to Himself anymore. Everywhere He and His disciples turn, there are people. Sick people. Needy people. Accusing people. Skeptical people. And, on this particular day, there are also a bunch of kids.
It seemed parents in the crowd had started pushing and shoving their way forward with their kiddos in tow. They were coming because it was customary in those days for a great teacher of the law to lay their hands on children and pray for them in order to bless them. That’s just what these parents were doing.
Jesus’ disciples didn’t want any part of it. In fact, the disciples “rebuked” these tiger parents and their disruptive kiddos (Matt. 19:13). That’s a strong word – rightly so. There was nothing polite about what the disciples did; it’s not as if they pulled mom and dad aside and quietly whispered, “Jesus is actually teaching right now, but we’re going to have a meet and greet later and you are more than welcome to come then.” This word is so strong, in fact, that in another form it can be translated, “punished.”
Jesus, though, was even more incensed than they were at this intrusion: “When Jesus saw it, He was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to Me’” (Matt. 19:14).
Now, Jesus got frustrated with His disciples a lot. He was disappointed in their level of understanding several times. But this is the only time in the Bible where He is “indignant” with them. There was something about this whole scene, chaotic as it undoubtedly was, that made the Son of God really, really angry.