So, that's why I am here!

One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus intervened: “Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.” After laying hands on them, he left. (Matthew 19:13-15)

Those who came to Jesus for his help sometimes had quite a difficult 'approach' to him. Whether we look at the heart of the parent toward the child who desperately needed healing, the people of status humbling themselves to seek the help they cannot find anywhere else, or the tenacity of friends willing to lay it all on the line for a friend, we see one common theme - they came without concern for the distance for the challenge of reaching him, called out to him for help, and cared enough about the need of the one they petitioned him to meet that they were willing to lay it all on the line. We need this kind of faith in approaching Jesus, my friends!

The children likely came with the intent of the "great teacher" touching and praying over them - for their anointing. Perhaps the parents or grandparents brought these children because they hoped for some miracle power, or maybe even the anointing which would make their child the next great "prophet" for the nation. Those who sought anointing were hopeful for the call of God - to be used by him to save Israel - to bring a fresh word to them from God - or to be the one God used as a "redeemer" from those who persecuted them down through the ages. Perhaps the parents were merely looking for Jesus to pray a blessing over these children and to see their lives prosper in every regard. Either way, they were brought to Jesus.

What would be our reaction to their parents' faith? Would we send the kids away without their "blessing" or "anointing"? Perhaps we might see this as a little bit of an intrusion into the "important work" of the "great teacher". After all, he was a wise teacher, healing those who came to him, and setting his world on fire all around him with the gospel message - would it make sense for children to interrupt this important work? The other reaction we might have been to become a little concerned about the "enthusiasm" of the kids and attempt to intervene to get them to "settle down" because after all, they ARE in the presence of greatness (much like we think kids have to hold still, sit quietly, and listen intently to the sermon in church). Don't get me wrong, the sermon is important. What is more important is that the child gets to see how the parents interact with others who know, serve, and follow Jesus. They get to see how they worship and lift praises in reverent awe of his presence. 

The kids come and bound in with enthusiastic energies most of us adults only remember from our youth. Their interests are peaked by this or that, but soon wane in search of the next thing which will captivate their attention for just a little while. Isn't it awesome how a child's mind works? To be so carefree and uninhibited is certainly a blessing. Why is it we feel we must "curb" this joy, "settle" this enthusiasm down, or "restrict" this intentional interaction with Jesus? To the disciples, the children didn't "fit" what they saw as the "mission" of Jesus. To me, the children "fit" perfectly the mission! They were enthusiastic, uninhibited, innocent, and eager to crawl right up into his lap. They were attentive to his words, not afraid to ask questions, and creative in their own special ways. Perhaps we need a little more enthusiasm - something which has been curbed by the "norms" of "church-goers" down through the ages, demanding we worship only this way or that. Perhaps we need a little more innocence in our approach to Jesus - willing to be vulnerable and open to asking questions that will help us understand Jesus and his plan for our lives better.

I have been the "stuffy" church-goer, demanding the right amount of "reverence" in church service, almost frowning on those who come with such innocence and enthusiasm. I have come around to seeing life from a different perspective - that of the child. I think the most liberating place to be in life is that of the child - the enthusiastic innocence and exuberant thrill of just coming into the presence of the one who makes "connection" with those who come. If we look at those who came, or were brought to Jesus, they all came with a purpose - they all came for this "connection" with Jesus. They wanted to just touch the hem of his garment, to have him lay hands on them, to have him focus his attention for even a little while upon their needs. This is what Jesus wants of us more than anything else - the deep desire to connect with him. This is what the children exemplify. We can learn no greater lesson than to become like a child in the presence of Jesus. Just sayin!


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