Who Are These Children?

By Rev. Bill Johnson

We have all seen the picture . . . the painting of Jesus sitting on the First Baptist Church lawn surrounded by Sunday school children.  The children and the lawn show that the greatest care has been put into grooming.  The children have not a hair out of place, nor a single blade of grass ungroomed.  I always hated that picture!  I was never one of the kids.  We were poor.  I didn’t have a suit.  We didn’t have running water, let alone a washer and dryer, so my clothes weren’t freshly pressed.  We did go to church but that picture of Jesus always bugged me.  It gave me the impression that I had to be like those kids in order to get to sit on Jesus’ lap.  I was too dirty, too poor, too outside for Jesus . . .

Matthew 19:13-15 “Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them.  But the disciples rebuked those who brought 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.”

As I read this passage I am struck by a lot of questions… Who are these children?  Who are these people who are bringing them?  Why are the disciples trying to stop them?  What does Jesus mean by “the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these”? 

As I was reading, these questions competed for attention . . .all good questions.  But, I was caught off guard.  The Spirit called my attention from what I was looking for to what the Spirit wanted me to see . . . Jesus placed his hands on them and prayed for them! 

Sometime I forget that answering the theological questions about what Jesus does isn’t as important as seeing what Jesus does.  He touches and prays for all who are brought to him. 

Touch– The comfort of having one’s hand held.  Feeling the presence of someone else when we find ourselves in moments of crisis can make all the difference.  It becomes healing just to know that we are not alone.  That someone is there to comfort and lift us up.  We don’t know if Jesus put his hands on the forehead, shoulder or held them in a hug . .  only that he touched them.  If we are the hands and feet of Jesus we might be the only Jesus touch people receive. 

Prayed for them– The mechanics of prayer isn’t as important as actually praying for them!  Speak words, on other’s behalf, to God.  Sometimes I treat God as though He is the big spiritual vending machine in the sky that has a sign constantly blinking, “exact change required”!  Do I have the correct prayer change (the right words, right formula, the correct theological understanding)?  Really all we need do is speak.  Open our heart and open our mouth.  That is one of the great gifts purchased for us at the cross.  We can approach God without the “groomed hair, and Sunday School suit”.  He listens to us just as we are.

Prayer: Lord, thank you!  We who are outside have been brought near- for your touch, for your prayer. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Bill Johnson, Pastor

Ecumenical Church

Pueblo West, CO

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