from John ZuHone
We tend to read the stories in the Gospels as compartmentalized bits--OK, the first part of Matthew 19 is talking about divorce, and then there's this small part about children, and then there's this story about the rich young ruler. But often we are invited to read stories placed next to each other together.
First, Jesus talks about divorce. No divorce except for sexual immorality. The disciples have a reaction that's pretty understandable--"then people shouldn't get married." They know how hard it is. I do too--I have been through divorce myself.
At the end, Jesus disappoints a young rich guy by telling him that his perceived righteousness isn't good enough--he has to sell all of his stuff too. Jesus says it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom. The disciples, again, say--"well, this is impossible, then."
How ironic, then, that sandwiched between these two tough stories is the little bit about Jesus welcoming the children. The disciples want to shoo the children away--Jesus has busy adult stuff to do! But Jesus says, "No! The kingdom belongs to such as these!"
Relationships are hard. Not clinging to our stuff is challenging. Jesus doesn’t shy away from the truth--he knows these things are difficult. Nevertheless, Jesus wants us to respond like the children--not pretending it isn't hard, but recognizing that like them, we are helpless without him. It's why he says, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." That includes marriage and possessions. Will we trust him?
John is ready for spring.