“’Get up, take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for those who sought the Child’s life are dead.’ So Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee, and came and lived in a city called Nazareth.
“This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: ‘He shall be called a Nazarene.’” (Mat 2:20-23)
Today we finished up another wonderful vacation Bible school. What an experience. We had such a great team in place and a special thanks belongs to our VBS director, Tammy Carlisle. This woman has such a passion for children. Of course being a public school teacher is on her side. It is so obvious that Tammy and Rich have a special calling from God. God has given them lots of ‘spiritual’ children.
What an awesome cast. We had tribal leaders and assistants for the various tribes of Israel. Then there was the market place. Whereas all the tribal leaders seemed to believe in Jesus, most of the vendors in the market had serious doubts . The market place was plenty busy. The talk in Nazareth was all about Jesus. Jesus really had everyone puzzled. That is, except the children.
Anyway, I was the Rabbi over the synagogue school in Nazareth. I would fuss at the children and tell them not so speak of Jesus while at the synagogue or even in the market place.
But the more I fussed the more the children would cry out, “I love Jesus.” It was so strange. Sometimes you would hear the children singing songs about Jesus. It really disturbed me. After all, I had known Jesus since he was quite young.
Yes, He was always a good lad. He loved God’s law. In fact Jesus always seemed to be much wiser than His years. And His mother, Mary – She really concerned me. Mary and Joseph were two of the most godly people who I knew. How could they get caught up in Jesus being the Son of God?
I had several issues with Jesus being God’s chosen One. I knew that the Pharisees and the temple priests did not like Him. And as much as I admired Mary as a godly woman, I thought she was confused over Jesus being the Son of God. All this talk about angel messengers.
But Nazareth? We were a very poor village and I was just a poor rabbi. Yet as a rabbi I knew that God’s Messiah could not come from Nazareth. He had to be born in Bethlehem. Oh the children — I was so concerned that they might get led astray.
The stories kept coming to our village. Seemed all Israel was in an uproar. I had never heard of such miracles – Blind eyes opened. Lepers healed. The lame leaping. And all this about love and forgiveness. Who did Jesus think He was. Only God can forgive sins.
Another thing that bothered me — We rabbis were never allowed to introduce a new teaching in Israel. We could only teach what an older and well-known rabbi had taught. We must always teach according to the tradition of the elders.
But Jesus? I kept hearing that He would never quote from one of the sages. In fact He even came against some of our traditions. I was told that Jesus said,
“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Mat 5:43-45)
Well, it began to get to me. The children — They were so excited. Their eyes were full of light. They would keep pestering me, “We love you rabbi Buddy. Do you believe in Jesus?” This went on over and over. Who could turn from these little ones. Suddenly I remember something the prophet had said, that a little child would lead them. A little child? I have little
children in my synagogue school every day. Am I missing something?
How can I say this other than these little children got to my heart. It was time to take a stronger look at Jesus. First I went to Mary. She told me that Jesus was actually born in
Bethlehem. Something was happening to my heart.
Next I went to my Torah to search the Scriptures. A strange thing happened. My Torah started speaking to me. I could not sleep. Night after night I searched God’s Word. It was wonderful. I saw where Moses described Jesus. That David had met Him personally. All the prophets had experiences with Him.
“I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.” (Deu 18:18-19)
David even called Him, Lord:
“The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.’ The LORD will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying, “Rule in the midst of Your enemies.” Your people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power; in holy array, from the womb of the dawn, Your youth are to You as the dew.’” (Psa 110:1-3)
I saw it again! “Your youth are to You as the dew.” I knew that the word for youth in Hebrew meant ‘children.’
But the one that really got me was from the prophet Isaiah. My eyes teared up as I read,
“Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
I kept reading.
“He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Something strange was happening inside me as I continued to read.
“Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.” (Isa 53:1-5)
Yes indeed. It happened. The next morning at synagogue school this very girl kept looking me in the eye, saying, “Rabbi Buddy, do you believe in Jesus?”I was speechless. She would not stop. “Rabbi Buddy, do you believe in Jesus?”
There she was. This little child was sent to lead me, the old rabbi. She was not going to leave. Suddenly it came out! “Yes, young lady. I believe in Jesus. Yes, I believe in Jesus.”
And that’s the story of how the old rabbi got saved.
But the story isn’t quite over. I wanted to see Jesus.
Here is how it happened. All the tribal children with their leaders and the shop keepers were singing together. Their worship leader had everyone singing and rejoicing.
For some reason everything got quiet. When I looked up I saw Mary walking towards the children. Then I looked over in the opposite direction, there was Jesus. I was speechless.
Mary called His name and Jesus took her in his arms. It was such a tender moment.
Then Mary began telling Jesus how much the children loved Him. When He smiled it was like heaven opened up. When Jesus looked at all the children, you knew how much He loved them. I heard Him call the blessing of God over all of them.
Boy, Jesus must really love little children. I know that I do.
Did Jesus teach me anything in our VBS program? Yes, He did. As I looked at all the children I saw what Jesus wanted us to become. Children are so innocent and trusting. They are precious beyond words. Each child is a special gift from heaven.
Listen to Jesus:
“And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, ‘Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
“Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Mat 18:2-6)
Here is a song that will speak to your heart – “With All I Am”
In Christ Always,