Sunday after my children’s lesson at the 7:45 service someone approached me with concerns regarding how I discussed where we find Jesus. So I wanted to reply to that concern for a moment to clear up any confusion I may have caused.
I was doing the children’s message based on Matthew 11:25-30
25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things* from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
[* “…these things…” Context is always important. Jesus just spoke to messengers from John the Baptist and explained that he is the Christ fulfilling all of the prophecies of the Old Testament. He then cursed those cities that were rejecting Jesus, and THEN we get to the quoted lesson from this morning]
The basic gist of my children’s message was to say “Jesus comes and reveals his love to us.” In the process, I used an example of the game hide and seek and explained that Jesus doesn’t hide from us. Instead, he comes to us. I asked, “Where do we find Jesus? Where does he show himself to us? Where does Jesus come to us?” I made some playful suggestions: “Do we find Jesus at the pool? What about at the restaurant?” Then I led into, “OR do we find Jesus in God’s Word? Do we find God’s Word at church…etc etc…”
There was a concern that I was suggesting that Jesus is not omnipresent. That he is not with us everywhere. Jesus is God, and is, therefore, Omnipresent. God is omnipresent and is always with us and watching over us. However, God has always made himself local for his people. He set places where the people could approach Him to hear His Word. We see this in the Ark (Ex. 25:22), the Tabernacle (Ex. 25:8), The Temple (2 Chron. 5:11-14), and now perfectly in Jesus (John 1:14). Therefore He comes to us through Jesus and we hear of Jesus as we read the Bible and receive Christ in the Lord’s Supper.
Jesus, God in the flesh, is certainly always with us as he promises in Matthew 28:19-20. He is with us in tangible ways where He promises to be. We don’t have to sit and stare contemplatively at a tree in the woods on a Sunday morning hoping that Jesus might show up, or that we might “feel” His presence. We are not Pantheists (i.e. we don’t say that everything is God and that nature re-connects us with the power that God has to offer). Instead, we join together with the whole body of Christ (Christians joining together to worship) in order to hear God’s Word that convicts us of our sin as well as forgives us through Christ before Christ comes to us in His Supper. That’s great news. Christ comes to us through his Word that we hear. That is where God makes Himself present to us even though He is omnipresent, Himself. We don’t have to go searching. He comes to us. God knows us and is always watching over us so we can have peace through the week as well, but we have that ultimate peace and rest around His Word and sacrament.
For the following service, I adjusted my explanation slightly in order to bring it down a little for the kiddos (I’ll be the first to admit that I far too often fail to bring concepts down to an understandable level). Rather than saying, “Where do we FIND Jesus?” I focused on learning about Jesus. “Where does Jesus teach us about himself? Where does He come to us to teach us about Himself so we can learn about His love? Do we learn about him at the pool? etc…” He comes to us through his proclaimed Word. That was the bigger point I was going for. He came in the flesh and He still comes to us through the message of His love and grace for us. Jesus is, most certainly present in the service in the Word and Sacrament, but I adjusted the point to be more about learning in this case for the children’s message.
Of course, this is all a lot bigger discussion that needs more Scripture involved (and is quite beautiful when you start digging into how God makes Himself present for His people), but I thought I’d give a brief explanation to clarify any confusion that I caused.
If you were concerned about that phrasing or if I just opened a bigger can of worms that you’d like to discuss, please feel free to let me know.
If you have other questions, please just let me know that as well!
In Christ (praise be to God),