I’ve just recently started teaching a childrens class at church on Wednesday night. Typically it’s to two kids, but tonight there were also two new girls who were visiting. While I was teaching John the Baptist and Jesus, one of the new girls seemed really interested and asked,
“Why did Jesus come to earth?”
That question wasn’t in the lesson plan; it wasn’t on my little timetable, but that’s not a question that you ignore. I stopped and took a timeout because of the severity of that question. And from right there all we talked about the rest of the night was Jesus and why he came to earth. I explained it the best that I could to this probably nine year old sitting in front of me. I explained who he was, why he had come, and that he had come in human form. I explained why the people hated him and why they killed him, and why he rose from the dead and where he is now. I explained as much as I could. I told the kids how he was crucified and how he was beaten and hurt. And I kept saying,
“He did it all because he loves us. He didn’t have to, but he loves us.”
And then I looked at the little girl that asked me the question, and I said cheerfully, “isn’t that so cool?” She looked at me with the soberest eyes and said,
I haven’t told the story of the crucifixion very often, but the times I have told it to kids, I’ve never gotten that response. I think that response more than possibly anything else she could have said made it clear that she really understood; that she had really made a connection. To hear all that Jesus suffered IS sad; the story doesn’t become beautiful until you understand that through his suffering, death, and resurrection you are free from your sins; and you are no longer a slave to the devil, but you are a son and an heir of God.
I was happy that I got to share the story. I was happy that the little girl was interested and kept asking questions. But afterward it made me hurt and sad that I couldn’t answer all her questions like I should have been able to; here I am, a Christian, and by Christian I mean my very essence, who I am, my whole life. And this religion that I’ve given my life too – I don’t know it inside and out. To talk about it should be second nature. But I dabble in petty things every day. I let irrelevant things frustrate me and take up so much time and energy. I sin, and I don’t care as much as I should. But isn’t this “sad” gospel my very life? I must know it better, because I may be the only person to whom that girl ever asks those questions.