I am not sure just how I would feel had I been one of the disciples power-walking behind Jesus.
I’m just trying to keep up! He almost sprints from village to village. Once in the midst of the people, he heals the sick with a gentle touch, softens hearts with an encouraging insightful word. The minds of others are enraged and tangled by his truths.
Today Jesus began by telling us that the “Son of Man would die and then three days later rise.” So what can that mean? I’m not asking. At times it is best just to keep quiet. But, I do think that my loyalty and longtime friendship should count for something in the end. Not sure why I bothered to mention it. It just led to an argument among the fellas. Each of us thinks he is the “greatest!” We should have known better than to let Jesus hear that discussion! “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Just when it gets really confusing being with Jesus, he does something that I can understand and then I sort of get what he is all about.
Today Jesus gathered a child into his arms. The child was dirty and tired and seemed to be wandering all alone. There did not seem to be a parent or grandparent or anyone around who even knew him. Her hair had not been washed in days and most likely he had not eaten recently. Jesus gently coaxed her into his arms and lifted him onto his lap. He spoke quietly, gently to her. Gradually the fear softened from his eyes and the strain lifted from her tear-stained face. I was some distance away, so could not hear what he was saying to her. But what I did hear were the words spoken to me by my parents. My heart heard the loving words of long ago. Words that told me I was loved and would be protected and had nothing to fear. I heard the funny stories my uncle told. I heard the laughter that filled our home. I heard the family stories my grandmother told and retold over the years. I felt the warmth of my mother’s arms and the strength of my father’s. I knew I was loved and was lovable. Echoing in the wind were other words – slurred, harsh and cruel. Guttural sounds blanketing the whimpering and sobbing of an abused, fearful child and the maternal pleadings of a distraught mother.
Jesus invites us into the truth of who he is, but lures me into the experience of who he is. Intimacy and vulnerability; hope and fear; comfort and struggle, healing. Jesus is present. Am I the loved child or the lost, lonely, bedraggled and forgotten child? Am I the abused child or the cherished child? Where do I experience that comfort and love? Who in my life speaks the healing words of love and acceptance, of affirmation and encouragement? And the child? Do I notice the lost, lonely, hungry, laughing, or crying child? What about the soldier child, the homeless, sick or abused child? To whom do I speak the loving words of joy, love, comfort and encouragement?
It is not about me, it’s about us. Jesus and me and you and me. Sometimes I get it and sometimes I don’t. Interesting how often the image of the child appears in scripture. At any age I am God’s child.
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