“Jesus took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in His arms…” Mark 9:36
I was exactly like Jesus today.
Considering today is Sunday and my calling is to preach the gospel, I hope the above statement does not sound boastful or surprising. Being like Jesus is part of my job description, so to speak (yours too, by the way). But today I was more literally like Jesus than normal. I’ll explain.
A part of my ministry in the worship service is a children’s sermon. A former professor of mine came to preach at Broadmoor a while back and told the congregation he was impressed with my “bravery” in taking on this weekly challenge. I had never thought of it as brave, but I suppose I see his point. There is a definite unpredictability when you sit down on the platform with children gathered around and try to hold their attention for a few moments, but it gives me a chance to be their pastor. I like that. Plus, I have had many adults tell me over the years that they get more out of my children’s sermon than my regular sermon. Hmmm.
The “sermon” is certainly not profound or even particularly difficult. I have a “sermon sack,” let a child pull out the object, then I tell a story and make a scriptural application. This morning’s topic for the children’s sermon does not matter. It has already been forgotten by everyone gathered for worship today at Broadmoor, but they will never forget this children’s sermon because of a certain little boy whose identity I will protect by referring to him simply as “JT.”
JT is 3 years old, and a truly beautiful little boy. He is a blond cherub with a nearly constant smile. Each Sunday he gives me a hug after church and runs around the sanctuary as people visit, talk, and laugh. JT is very much like any 3 year old boy should be. Like I was. In my day the saying was “little boys are snakes, and snails, and puppy-dog tails.” JT is certainly all of that… with a dash of MMA. He is already a big boy for his age, strong and good. He is great fun to watch grow up and will be a fine man. Today he is 3, and that brings me back to the moment this morning I was exactly like Jesus.
JT wiggled during the children’s sermon. He rolled around a bit. He crawled from the left side of the little congregation to the right side. Over the children. Over my feet. He was not bad. He was simply 3. So I reached over, and, just like Jesus would, picked him up and sat him on the step in front of me, wrapped both arms around him, and hugged him while I tried to finish my simple object lesson. Our little wrestling match was a draw at best, but we all laughed at what was probably the highlight of the worship service.
Jesus often referred to children. When trying to teach the disciples about humility, He took a child and set him in the midst of them, wrapping His arms around him. On one occasion, parents were bringing little children to him, even infants, for Him to touch. The cranky disciples tried to stop them, but Jesus rebuked the disciples. Jesus blessed children, held them, hugged them, and loved them. I thought of that when I picked up JT.
JT was right where he belonged this morning, in the midst of a church that loves him and delights in him. And he did something very important for all of us. A little child reminded his church that God has a great, wonderful, and charmingly sacred sense of humor. We all felt the radiance of His smile this morning, as we watched little JT’s smile. Every church and every Christian needs to remember this, and be thankful for each reminder.
I am so glad to be JT’s pastor. I will likely talk to him one day about receiving Christ as his Savior. I likely will be the one to baptize him. I will teach him about Christ, and watch him grow physically and spiritually. What a blessing that is to think about! It is one reason I enjoy so much the children’s sermon. It gives me a chance to be like Jesus.
And one other thing. If I should still be around when he marries, I will enjoy immensely telling today’s story at his rehearsal dinner.
Dr. Terry Ellis
September 23, 2012