People liked Jesus. Matthew 19.13-15
We have looked at how Jesus loved little children, and was at home with them. He even said we are to become like children to be in the kingdom of God . . . but have you ever thought about the reverse –
children seemed to really love Jesus, and be at home with him? To me, this is even more telling! I love that children wanted to be near Jesus.
Notice this little vignette captured not just by Matthew, but also by Mark and Luke: “Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.”1
Once again, we recall that children were nothing but possessions in the first century—no value was placed on them at all. Yet Jesus made time for them, as mothers brought their children to be near the Lord. What was it that made the children comfortable, what was it that made them want to be near Jesus? It seems to me that these verses invite us to step a little closer to the One who made children feel ‘at home’ with him.
And once seeing him up close, Jesus invites us to become like him. You see, his essence, his very manner was tender,
O, to have been near him! O, to be like him!
This afternoon, I walked in the front door of my home with my 2 ½ year old grandson, Bennett, just as Danny, (my youngest son, almost 18 years old), came down the stairs to leave for rehearsal at the high school. “Bennett!” he said, and lowered down to his knees to be eye level with his little nephew. Totally natural. I am confident that Jesus also assumed a position lower to the ground so as to look sweetly in the little ones’ eyes.
[Posture, body position – you know, there is something to that aspect of relating with others. Have you ever stopped to think about the fact that the last time Jesus touched his beloved disciples, he was washing their feet in the upper room—you know, the night he would later be betrayed and arrested in the garden? Think of Jesus’ posture, kneeling as he was - and his disciples bending to look into his eyes. Hmm. Humble position, humble posture that makes relating so very real.]
Jesus invites his friends to lay down the garments that give them special status, to remove the masks that hide their real selves, and to present themselves to others humbly, vulnerably, with all their poverty. To become humble and small requires a loving heart, purified of its fears and human security, ready to love to the end, in order to give life to others.3
Jesus was an enigma. Of course, I marvel at Jesus’ love, power, teaching and example; but how about his manner, his steady emotion in the day-to-day goings on? I marvel at his demeanor. I mean, knowing he always wanted to be in the Father’s will, wasn’t his mind constantly caught up in where he ought be, what he ought do and say? We know Jesus revered Isaiah’s words, ‘whether you turn to the left or to the right, you will hear a voice saying, ‘this is the way, walk in it.’2 So how then was he able to be totally present, so in the moment, so unhurried with children, with the woman at the well, with those who interrupted his journey here or there, with those he came in contact, while listening to the Father? Seriously, think about it. His ministry was short—about three and a half years—and he had so much to accomplish, so much to teach in those years, how was he never stressed or anxiety-filled?
He just wasn’t. Jesus carefully determined what pleased the Father and he did it.4
And he did it with joy. Jesus was a sought-after guest for celebrations … don’t you love that? While some want to paint Jesus as serious all the time, think of it--children do not go to people who are somber, because they scare them. Indeed Jesus not only talked about joy—he put a premium on it!5
Take a look in the mirror, Friend ~ do you possess the affable qualities that children found so attractive in Jesus? And as for joy … do you have it? If not, press in to Jesus, learn from him. Invite the Holy Spirit to remake these qualities in you, and grant you joy, as you follow in the footsteps of the Savior. Amen.
1 – Matthew 19.13-15
2 – Isaiah 30.21
3 – Essential Writings, Jean Vanier, from The Scandal of Service: Jesus Washes Our Feet, 1996.
4 - Ephesians 5.10
5 – John 15.11