People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this he was indignant . . . (Mark 10:13).
Have you been rebuked lately? I have, and I probably deserved it. I took a book to my daughter’s basketball game. I received a gentle but firm rebuke for this from Anna. In my defense let me say that I saw every minute that she played. She knew this, but it didn’t matter. “You don’t take a book to a basketball game,” she said. Fair enough.
The Greek word for “rebuke” keeps showing up in Mark’s gospel, and there’s a connection between what is being rebuked and the ways we find God at work in the world.
In Mark 8:32 Peter rebukes Jesus for talking plainly to the disciples about death and suffering. This isn’t good for morale, so Peter pulls Jesus aside for a little talking to.
In response Jesus rebukes Peter – and with a scathing line: “Get behind me Satan” (Mark 8:33). Peter has an agenda that directly opposes what Jesus is trying to do. There’s not much God in his thinking and Jesus will have none of it.
A little later the disciples rebuke those who are bringing children to Jesus (Mark 10:13). This rebuke causes Jesus to become indignant. Jesus welcomes the children and even holds them up as exemplary of those who will have a place in God’s kingdom.
The journey to Jerusalem continues and as Jesus and the disciples pass through Jericho a blind man begins to shout out, hoping to get Jesus’ attention. There’s the word again; those around Jesus “rebuke” the blind man (Mark 10:48). But what others rebuke, Jesus hears and takes notice of. The blind man is healed.
As we journey with Jesus through the everyday aspects of our lives we might be surprised to learn that the things that annoy us or irritate us are actually the places where God is most likely to show up. What inconveniences us may glorify God.
The disciples were annoyed by children; they had no social or political clout. They felt like a distraction, a bother. But what the disciples rebuked, Jesus received and touched and blessed.
The people around Jesus rebuked the whining blind man. What they rebuked and told to be quiet, Jesus heard and invited to conversation. “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51).
Interestingly, what Jesus rebuked were pretensions to self-importance, power, upward mobility and busy-ness that can’t be interrupted by children and blind people.
What annoys you or irritates you? Where do you find yourself spewing a word of rebuke in the course of a typical week? Take another look. What you rebuke may well be the place where God is at work in ways you haven’t dreamed of.
Lord Jesus, help me to see things the way you see them. Keep me from living my days reacting to what annoys me, distancing myself from what is inconvenient. Redeem my tendency to rebuke and help me to find you in those very people and places. Amen.