Recently, I was at the mall with a friend. We peered down from the second floor at the the Christmas bustle. There was a monstrous tree dangling from the ceiling. Fake snow flounced around life-sized toy trains, comical elves and of course, Jolly Old Saint Nick. I almost pitied the poor guy in costume when I heard them announce that he will be at the mall every single day from 9-6 until Christmas Eve. Especially since I’m sure not all the visiting kiddos made the “nice” list, December is going to be a long month!
Then, I was running this morning, past decorations and lights, yard-sized nativity scenes and plastic reindeer on roofs. My mind flickered back to the mall, something seemed similar. Do you remember the story in Mark 10:13-16, when crowds of children were brought to see Jesus?
Bunches (the Bible doesn’t say how many) of parents brought their children to see Jesus. And not just to see Him, they wanted Jesus to touch them, to bless them. I imagine moms waiting impatiently in line while their rowdy children pressed forward, oblivious to any sense of order. Doubtless, they had heard about this man. Maybe they thought he was magical – he healed people, walked on water, turned water into wine!
Every single year, in the crowded center of the mall, hundreds of children cluster around a smiling old man, whom they are told is magical and can fill their every wish – if they are good.
Hmmm…that’s not so like Jesus.
Remember the disciples trying to protect Jesus from the crush? I’m sure they were irritated by snotty-nosed youngsters. They probably noted a few who should be on the “naughty” list and decided it was best to keep them out of Jesus’ way. They gently pushed the children backward and told their parents not to bother Jesus.
But Jesus stopped them.
“Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.” Mark 10:14
Jesus pulled the children onto His lap, put his hands on them and blessed them. Did you notice what was left out? Jesus didn’t ask them, “Were you a good boy?” Instead, His love was accepting, unconditional and extravagant.
Now, let me take some literary license. Children are told that in order to get presents, they must believe in Santa Clause and be good. Obviously, if they don’t believe, coal will be their Christmas reward.
We don’t know if these children were of the decision making age, or if even their parents believed or cared that Jesus was the Messiah. But Jesus didn’t question them. He simply opened His arms and blessed them. He explained to the thicker-headed adults that a child-like faith is the key to the kingdom of God. All we must do to inherit eternal life is to believe that: JESUS IS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. THAT HE DIED FOR OUR SINS, ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES. THAT HE WAS BURIED AND ROSE AGAIN IN THREE DAYS, ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES.
I urge you, make some noise about the truth of Christmas this year. There are thousands of adults who don’t believe – in the only hope for their souls. And Jesus invites them.