First scenario: Unnamed moms bring children to Jesus
Of course moms--and dads too--who know and trust Jesus desire to bring their children to Him. Regardless of their ages, our children will always be our children. In my case, even when some of my sons are already retirement age and grandfathers themselves!
In the first biblical clip we see some mothers apparently interrupting a serious teaching session of Jesus with his disciples. Three of the gospel writers record this event so it must have been memorable. The moms undoubtedly knew Jesus well enough already to trust Him as they brought their children to Him. He welcomed them, touched them, and blessed them.
One version says there were infants as well as other toddlers. Jesus obviously wasn't a scary, unapproachable person or the kids would have been afraid of Him and the moms wouldn't have risked letting Jesus take them on His lap. (This reminds us of the many photos being taken of Pope Francis embracing babies and taking physically challenged children into his arms and kissing them and blessing them.) The disciples were apparently irritated and took it upon themselves to try to stop the moms. One version said they "rebuked" them.
In several translations of this story it is recorded that Jesus was “much displeased, indignant, angry.” He said “Don't hinder them or stop them...let them come to Me.” Of course the disciples had sense enough to back off at His rebuke to them. Then Jesus, probably with an infant in his lap, took advantage of the teaching moment to let them know what the true nature of the Kingdom of God was all about.
The take-away value?
The moms didn't tell Jesus what to do, they simply trusted Him, brought their children to Him and let Jesus do whatever He would do, knowing that it would be good.
Second scenario: Zebedee's wife and mommy of James and John
In the second clip from the gospel of Mark we see mom, also unnamed, who started out well bowing down and worshiping Jesus. Other versions say “adoring Him, kneeling before Him.” But even worship can go wrong sometime if the motive isn't pure. She was mistaken about the true nature of Jesus' Kingdom. She didn't come alone and privately approach Jesus. Her sons were with her and the rest of the disciples were present because they overheard the mom's demand on behalf of her sons. She was the spokesperson running front for her boys (strong, adult fishermen to whom Jesus had given the nickname “Sons of Thunder” hiding behind their mother!) She knew exactly what she wanted and had possibly rehearsed her request. The text says that she “desired a certain thing of Him, asked a favor, begged a favor.”
We might suspect that her request was as much for her sake as for them. Mistaking that Jesus' Kingdom was of this present world, she dared to ask Jesus to promise her sons the most prominent places in His coming Kingdom, one on His right hand, one on His left. She wanted to secure their position in advance. What audacity, what presumption! She might have been thinking of the prestige this would bring to the House of Zebedee and how she could brag to her neighbors how successful her sons had become.
The big boys must have been privy to this request because they went along with it. Perhaps more than that, could they have persuaded mom to pave the way for their ambition? They should have stopped mom when they saw how this was going over and how the rest of the disciples began to react: “they were greatly displeased.” By the way, where was their dad? Was he in on this? We hope he wasn't put out because when Jesus called his sons to follow Him, they took off immediately. Jesus broke up his fishing business, a partnership that might have been called “Zebedee and Sons, Inc.”
Jesus didn't embarrass mom, He gently corrected her. “You don't know what you are asking.” Nor did He reprimand her sons. He just called “the boys” forward and asked them some serious questions. They still didn't get it. They insisted they were able to follow Jesus all the way anywhere. Had they not been listening to all His teachings about the nature of His Kingdom and what it would cost to follow Him? He turned it into a teaching moment for them and for the ten other disciples. He let them know in no uncertain terms what lay ahead for Himself, His Kingdom, and those who would be a part of it.
The take away value?
We can learn from negative examples as well as positive ones. As moms—and dads too—let's not be so presumptuous to demand of the Lord what we think He should do for our children. Let's have pure hearts when we come worshiping the Lord. He already has the best plans destined for them, better than we could ask or think of. Let's just continually bring them to Jesus in our prayers, the grown up ones as well as the little ones, and let Him touch them and bless them according to His perfect will.
A Mother's Request
Today and every day
I bring my children to Jesus
in the arms of my spirit
and faithful prayer
whether little ones
or grown-up ones
and let them sit in His lap
held close in His embrace
as He touches them
hugs them and blesses them.
As a mother I do not demand
for them some special place
to sit at His left hand
or on His right
in His eternal Kingdom.
I ask only that each one might
enter His Father's House
by His mercy and grace
by their faith and joyful choice
so that we may behold His face