“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven?” He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom.” Matthew 18: 1-4
Not all of us are men and not all of us are women, but each of us, at one time, was a child. Many of us still act like we are! So it should be easy for us to put ourselves in the perspective of a child right? But it’s not. It can be so difficult to see Christmas, to see Christ like a child, yet so vitally important, that it is mentioned in the bible not only in the Matthew 18, but again in Matthew chapter 19, a third time in Mark chapter 10 and a fourth time in Luke chapter 18. In deed, it is more than difficult for a mature adult who has seen and heard too much of a hostile world to look at Christ, to look at Christmas, and to simply believe with the innocence and faith of a child.
Yet Scripture is clear, in order to enter into the kingdom of heaven we have to receive it like a little child. Why like a child? What did Jesus see in children that so endeared them to him?
When I asked my friends, family, kids, anyone I could get ahold of what Christmas meant to a child I got essentially three distinct types of answers.
Is anyone surprised that the number one answer was presents? There is no doubt that to all children Christmas gifts is a huge and imperative part of Christmas. And if you will allow yourself to admit it even adults eagerly anticipate the opening of presents. The thing about a present is the mystery behind it. You look at a gift that is all wrapped up and you take in the size and the weight and any sound it might make when shaken (gently) and you can make an educated guess about what may be in it. But you don’t actually know for certain. Until that gift is open it could literally be anything in the world, your imagination is the only limit. It’s especially true in my family, that the biggest gift may be in the smallest box and the smallest gift is almost always in the biggest box. A gift that is light, will have rocks added to it, if a gift is so big or heavy that it can’t be wrapped at all then a note is wrapped (with a weight inside it) sending the recipient on a wild goose chase to find it. Until the paper is off you can never tell what a gift might be.
Now he is a little Baby in Mary’s arms wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger, but soon, He will confound the pharisees in the Temple. He will be introduced and baptized by John. He will work miracles and call disciples. He will die on a cross, be buried in a borrowed tomb, and be resurrected the third day. He will ascend to the Father to become our Intercessor, Advocate, Mediator and great High Priest.
Have you ever seen a child’s face light up the first time they see the Christmas lights go on for the year. It is the definition of awe. Their eyes get big, literally reflecting the lights they see around them, their mouths drop open, but no words come out, and for a few seconds the whole body is perfectly still. No small feat for a busy child. I imagine that’s what the shepherds look liked the first time they laid eyes on the Christ child. They were there, the only ones to join Mary and Joseph at the time of Christ’s birth, an ordinary birth with extra-ordinary outcome. And isn’t it the truth that children have a spiritual gift for finding the extraordinary out of the everyday ordinary.
I urge you this Christmas, to look at it through the eyes of a child. The way Christ calls us too. Look for your own signs of Christmas they are all around. You might find Christ in an unopened gift, beautiful Christmas lights, a child’s Christmas program, or an orange. Whatever Your sign for Christmas may be, I hope you find it with the innocence, the miracle, the awe of a child. Merry Christmas and God bless you.