Interesting how Jesus keeps using children as focal points for his teachings. In the last thirty-three verses Jesus does this three times. This time he has a wider audience that includes the Pharisees and others.
Pharisees are those people we like to label as those ‘works righteousness’ kind of people. I think we need to cut them some slack. They were trying their best to be faithful. Very likely our most ambitious efforts would pale in comparison. The difficult reality is just how much we are like them.
Recently I read an article that cast a different light upon the Pharisees (I have forgotten the author and where it was published). What I learned wasn’t that the Pharisees respected the Scriptures, which they did. What was important is that they didn’t respect the Scriptures enough. The situation in this Sunday’s reading was about divorce. Specifically, regarding the legalities about a man divorcing his wife. This was done to test Jesus. It was also done to legitimize a man’s power in the marriage over his wife. Respect for Scripture was being used to bend society to support power structures that were in place.
None of this is new. Who hasn’t had a Bible verse thrown at them in an argument? Who hasn’t used a Bible verse to serve personal agendas? The Bible has been used to support slavery, abuse, war and the list is endless. As it was back then, so it is today. The abuse of Scripture for power and politics has been going on for a long time.
Jesus turned the perspective on them. From the beginning, marriage was intended for the two to become as one. Don’t be using Scripture to tear apart what God has intended and done.
Children didn’t have a whole lot of power back in those days. As a result, they weren’t all that adept at adult power moves. If you want to be part of the kingdom of God, then you need to be like the children. The children and not the Pharisees were blessed by him.