Jesus reveals things to little children. He hides things from those who think they are clever.
According to Jesus it’s the little children who offer perfect praise. It’s the little children we must copy if we want to enter God’s kingdom. We are never to look down on a little one.
We have so much to learn from little children. How much more did Jesus have to point this out in his generation, when his disciples thought that children were a nuisance and tried to send them away.
Last week I was with a small child, who cannot yet stand, walk, talk or crawl. It will be a while before she can do any of these things. But she knows how to concentrate. She looks at everything around her, trying to take it in, trying to understand. And gradually she is getting it. Amazing things are going to happen.
People walked around Jesus. They spent years with him, learning from all he did. It took a long time for them to understand. They were like little children who at their best knew that they did not know very much.
I’ve tried to follow Jesus for many years. I’m still a little kid who barely understands how wonderful he is. He surprises me. He isn’t who I expected him to be. Sometimes I understand something new and I rejoice in the wonder of it all, still amazed at how little I know.
The ‘clever’ people had a problem with Jesus. He wasn’t what they thought the Messiah should be. Those who were like little children found that Jesus was revealing God to them.
There’s a story doing that rounds that Christians should never be anxious. We should always be calm and full of faith. We should always serve other people and always have a smile on our face.
Nonsense. No real believer is like that. We follow the one who cried, ‘My God my God why have you forsaken me?’ We follow the one who was troubled, the one who offered loud cries and tears to God. Why should it be any different for us?
I’m saying this because I want to be real. I’m saying this because I want us to recognise Jesus where we are most likely to find him.
In our Bible reading today Cleopas and his friend thought they knew what the Messiah should look like. Jesus was walking with them and they didn’t recognise him. They couldn’t recognise him until he broke bread.
The best place to see Jesus may be in something that’s broken. That’s how we tells us to remember him.
Jesus turns up in this story, not as someone who serves other people but as someone who needs a welcome, someone who needs hospitality. His followers will often find themselves in the same position. And like Jesus we will find ourselves feeling insecure and anxious. We sing our songs of faith to help us fix our eyes on Jesus, not because we feel great all the time.
Cleopas and his friend expected the wrong sort of Messiah. Let’s tune in to the Scriptures, for they will tell us what Jesus is really like.
By the way, he is alive.
Jesus looked up to Zacchaeus.
No one had looked up to this man. It wasn’t just his lack of height or that fact that he didn’t usually climb trees. People had no respect for him. They did not expect Jesus to invite himself to Zacchaeus’s home.
Imagine the moment. Place yourself in that tree. Jesus is looking up at you. He is respecting you. Honouring you. The people who don’t respect you are looking rather foolish.
Now hear this: he wants you to practice looking up at other people. Those who humble themselves will be lifted up. Those who make themselves great will be torn down. That’s how God’s kingdom works.
The story of Zacchaeus comes after other stories that make the same point:
In the middle of these stories Jesus talks about himself. He was mocked, insulted, spat at, flogged and killed. But he was also raised to life. Jesus is there for those who are rejected because he is a rejected one too.
In the kingdom of God we can look up at people because we know Jesus is looking up at us.