Innocence of Babes
As we review and absorb anew each year the truths in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we can often be struck in a new way by something we’ve long known. For me this year, it was Jesus’ very first reaction on rising from the dead. *John records Jesus’ news flash to his dearest friends on earth when speaking to Mary: “…I haven’t yet ascended to God, my Father, and he’s not only my Father and God, but now he’s your Father and your God! Now go to my brothers and tell them what I’ve told you, that I am ascending to my Father—and your Father, to my God—and your God!” There is excitement in his voice—this was what he most wanted them to know and realise: now his work was finished, everything had changed amazingly for them. The Holy of Holies in the temple where God’s Presence dwelt could only be entered once a year by the High Priest, after much ceremonial purification. That veil was gone. Jesus’ message to his friends was that through his life’s work, death and resurrected life they were now wrapped in his own purity and innocence; they were now, with Jesus, welcome in the Presence of God at all times. I suspect that they, like us, took some time to absorb what that really meant—and as each year went by, they too probably found new meaning in those words. Some decades later it is described by Paul in ^Ephesians: “And in love he chose us before he laid the foundation of the universe! Because of his great love, he ordained us, so that we would be seen as holy in his eyes with an unstained innocence. For it was always in his perfect plan to adopt us as his delightful children, through our union with Jesus the Anointed One…”
Unstained innocence…it is a stretch to see myself that way, but my heart sings just thinking about it. As human beings the closest we get to innocence is the wonder, love and openness of our littlest ones. Our hearts melt when their faces light up just to see us, that no-holds-barred acceptance and joy in their gorgeous faces. It came to me that at least part of what Jesus was so keen for his brothers and sisters to understand as he rose from the grave that day was as we just read in Paul—his work accomplished that unstained innocence, acceptance and joy for his delightful children. They could see themselves without shame, doubt or baggage of any kind—able to innocently bask in the love of their Father. It is a new way to see oneself, one that can be harder to slip into the older we get. This life tends to ‘hard boil’ us a bit, leave us with scars and baggage we insist on making part of our identity. Do we see any of that in those beautiful faces above? Innocence allows them to revel in the enjoyment, attention, and acceptance of their parents, the first love they’ve known. Not unlike those babes, but to a far greater extent, the first encounter with love in its pure form we have known is the love that existed before the foundation of the universe—the love that has adopted us as God’s precious children. Living in Christ is to encounter that first love again and again—to wake every morning to the transforming love that will not let us go. Paraphrasing a pastor friend of mine: Having been adopted as one of His delightful children, our mission every morning, should we choose to accept it, is to be the Beloved of God.
With thanks to UNPLASH--R.E. Wongso; UNSPLASH—J..Yankovich
*John 17:20 (TPT) ^ Eph.1: 4,.5 (TPT) + Ptr. J. Zachariah