Oh, Jerusalem. Circumcision and a temple. Tradition, rules, guidelines. A place, a nation, a journey. Egypt, Nazareth, Jerusalem: those early years. Yes, a journey. Beginning with travel as preparation for a future journey, maybe. The opinions of others already at work. The realities of a bigger picture also at work.
He grew. He became strong. He was filled with wisdom. Grace was upon Him. Travel and grace, conflict and grace, miles and grace, danger and grace, politics and grace, death and grace.
Does that story allow our names to be included? Can we pause and place grace beside our names?
Very few phrases about Christ’s early years. A summary, a scene, some youthful eagerness to make a difference. God as a child? A child: learning to walk and talk and think and grasp realities surrounding Him. Facial expressions? Tone of voice? Eyes? Weather? Noise? Wind? Animals?
People. So many people? What did He know? What did others think, feel, assume as young Jesus walked by? As Jesus visited the temple?
Years of silence on the pages of my Bible. Time traveled on but we aren’t given a glimpse. I can imagine. You can imagine. We can imagine. Thinking of our own childhoods, we can imagine. Think of the many meals Christ ate. Think of the weather. Think of His friends. Did His head feel pain from the sun? Did His stomach ache? Were there nights He stayed awake? How did His voice sound as He memorized and sang the songs of King David? How long did Joseph live? What was Mary’s facial expression as she glanced outside to see Jesus playing while she knew He wasn’t just another little boy?
Suddenly, on our pages of Scripture, Jesus stood up to His mission and walked toward the water. He insisted John baptize Him. Reluctantly, John followed through on his calling and soaked his cousin in the moisture as a reminder of Christ’s calling. I imagine the water—its color, its temperature, its welcoming of a Messiah. A dove, a Father, a crowd of observers. What would I have done there? Would I have been interested? Would I have paid attention? What part would you like to play in that drama? Would you want to join in the water? Would you ask Jesus why He was walking away on His own? Would you try to go with Him?
Honestly, I would’ve expected an adventure toward miracles after drying off the water. Not Jesus. He walked into the wilderness. No food. No friends. Only a battle, a war. His enemy luring with temptations.
Jesus said no to the desires.
I probably would have said yes.
You possibly would have said yes.
Jesus said no.
Then He could begin His adventure in the journey of grace. Selecting disciples. Unexpected, not-very-impressive, not-very-holy, unlikely followers.
You and I might have been selected.
Doesn’t that surprise us? Maybe today we can welcome the surprise of His welcome. Observe the face of Christ looking our way. Notice love, not hate; peace, not pressure; kindness, not judgment; invitation, not rejection.
In our hurry of effort and accomplishment, of goals and agenda, of success and completion, let us glance back in time to gain a better view of the now.
Realize that maybe this is more than a novel. Accept the reality of this narrative and believe we are in the story.