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22
Jun

Questions Children Ask! Who is Jesus?

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First of all, when answering a child’s question, remember:

 -Children usually want simpler answers than we give them. 

 -Children may not be asking the question we think they are asking. 

 -Children love answering their own questions.

 -There is no bad question.

 -It is okay not to have an answer right away..

 -It is also okay to say that some questions just don’t have answers, at least not right now.

 ESPECIALLY – remember that children love answering their own questions.

 

Now this is a fun question to discuss with your child.  And while discussing “who is Jesus?” you will probably deepen your own understanding of who Jesus is for you.

 Who is Jesus?

 Unless children come to church and read Bible stories, then the word “Jesus” is usually known to children as a curse word or exclamation.  I can’t think of anything sadder because Jesus was such a beautiful, holy, gentle, loving person.  To think that some people only know his name as a word used to curse when something has gone wrong or to express surprise or frustration – that is very sad.  I’d love every child to know the unconditional love and acceptance that Jesus really was (and is) all about.

 

If my child asks about Jesus, then I’m going to immediately ask, “Who do you think Jesus is?” or “What do you think about Jesus?”  And I’m sure a child that is asking such a question has some ideas.  Of course, you may indeed need to deal with the fact that they have heard the word “Jesus” (said in any number of strange ways) used without reference to the divine teacher whose Way we follow.

 

The interesting part is, for us as parents, to express who Jesus is for us – how we understand his life, death and resurrection, his teachings and our commitment to following his Way.  We may have never had to express this out loud on any other occasion, or it may be a challenge putting it into words that our child will understand.  What I am sure is that by the time you have had this conversation with your child, your understanding and your faith will have become richer and deeper.

 

Who is Jesus?  There are some factual things we can say.  Jesus was a Jewish man, born about the year 4 B.C. in a town called Bethlehem.  He grew up in Nazareth in Galilee, the son of a carpenter and so would have been a carpenter himself for about 20 years.  Jesus began his ministry when he was about 29 years old.  So for about 29 years he lived and worked in Nazareth.  When he began his ministry, he was baptized in the Jordan River by his cousin John.  His ministry happened mostly in Galilee – the northern part of present day Israel.  His ministry lasted for 3 years.  Let me say that again - all the stories we read in the Bible about Jesus happened in three years.  He was then arrested, tried and crucified by the Roman Empire.  His disciples then experienced his resurrected presence three days after his death.  The existence of Jesus is recorded, outside of the Bible, by the Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, who was born a few years after Jesus’ death.

 

Isn’t that amazing! Jesus taught, told stories about God’s love, healed, and transformed people’s lives – all in 3 years.  And here I am 2,000 years later writing about him.  Three years of Jesus’ ministry – and we’re still talking about it.  Awesome!

 

That’s what captures my heart.  Some people say that he was just a good man – but many good men and women have lived and died and not had that lasting legacy.  I can’t begin to explain what exactly happened with the resurrection.  I don’t need to.  What I do know is that his disciples, the inner group and the more extended group, were so transformed by his resurrected presence that they went out preaching and teaching and loving with great energy, enthusiasm and spirit – and that’s why we know about Jesus.

 

Jesus – there are many words we could use to describe him, all found in the Bible. Some might be easier to use with children than others.  Teacher, Master, Rabbi, Friend, Word, Son of God, Divine, Shepherd, Lover, Light of the World, Hope, Saviour, Healer, Emmanuel.

 

Let me explain a few of those words:

Jesus:  in Hebrew, he was known as Joshua.  In Aramaic, the language Jesus grew up speaking he was Yeshua.  From that, we get the name “Jesus.”  Jesus means “God saves.”

Emmanuel:  In the birth story in Matthew, Joseph is told that he and Mary will have a son, and he will be called “Emmanuel.”  This word means “God is with us.”

Saviour: You put “salve” on a cut or wound to help it heal.  Saviour comes from the same root word, so Saviour means “one who heals.”

 

Jesus came to show us that God is with us, that we are not alone.  Jesus came to save us, to help us, to hold us, to comfort us.  Jesus brings healing and well-being into our lives, helping us, guiding us, encouraging us and sometimes challenging us to do better.

 

Jesus was divine and human – he had a special connection with God, and invited us into that special connection.  I believe that there is so much more available to us than we realize in our daily lives, a mystery of divine love that Jesus came to show us and to share with us.

 

Jesus taught us a Way to live.  When we commit ourselves to living his Way, our lives are filled with meaning and purpose and we make an amazing difference in this world.  Living the Way of Jesus takes commitment; it isn’t always easy because he asked us to:

 

Love God with all our heart and mind and strength and soul,
Love our neighbours as we love ourselves  (both might be challenging)

 

But not only those things…

we are to love those who are strangers,

and love those who we see as enemies.

We are to do good to those who hurt us,

and welcome those who might seem strange to us.

We are to forgive.  We are to help.  We are to share what we have so that no one is in need.

 

What Jesus asked us to do is not easy, but it is amazing!  That’s why I follow the Way of Jesus.  That’s why I invite others to do so as well, because I believe there is no life like it.

 

Now, in sharing with your child, you’ll have to decide just what you want to say and how you want to express it, depending upon their age and stage in life.

 

But most of all, I invite you to make sure that they know that Jesus loves them.  Jesus loves them unconditionally.  Jesus will never turn away.  Jesus will always be there.  Lots of people might say that Jesus judges us and rejects certain people – but that is not the Jesus in the Bible.  Jesus constantly welcomed and ate meals with everyone.  Let your children know that, in Jesus, they have a friend who is always there to talk to, someone on whom they can always count.

 June 22, 2017                          ©Susan Lukey 2017

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