1. Mark 10:13–16 (ESV)
  2. Structure and outline

Considering whether this account has a tight link to the preceding

Mark 10:13–16 (ESV)

13 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them.

What is the reason that this little story is told by as many as three evangelists? Wohlenberg1 sees a close connection with the earlier talk about marriage: do the children not follow upon a marriage? This idea implies that the child is then placed at the centre of this passage. Also when Jesus in 10:14b speaks of such to whom the kingdom of heaven belongs, he (according to this view) intends to say that children certainly are entitled to receive his blessing—and that older people must have the disposition of a child. The exegesis is then controlled by the exclamation, Do not hinder them!

However, objections can be raised against this:

  1. Luke 18:15–17 has the story of the children but not the pericope about marriage; so at least in Luke the story about the children must be explained without reference to what has been said about marriage;

  2. There is a separate reason to speak about children, one that comes from the circumstances at that moment, so that a direct teaching connection between the marriage pericope and the incident about the children is not to be assumed;

  3. All the evangelists have in longer or shorter form Jesus’ general application of the incident (Matthew 19:14, Mark 10:14–15, Luke 18:16–17), but Luke leaves out the final event (the blessing of the children); this suggests that the central issue is to be sought in Jesus’ general application, not in its cause (the children);

  4. Jesus’ general application is not about the reception of children, but about the reception of the kingdom. We conclude that the arrival of the children was the reason for a memorable declaration by Jesus at the address of the disciples and that this declaration about receiving the kingdom of heaven is the reason for relating the story of the parents with their children; it constituted the cause!2