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Caring for Jesus

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Matthew 11:12
"From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force."

These words of Jesus seem to apply as much today as they did two thousand years ago. Has the kingdom of heaven ever not been under siege or under attack?

What would we do if Jesus was here? In the devastatingly spiritual movie Whistle Down the Wind, Hayley Mills and her younger brother and sister discover a stranger living in their barn. He is Jesus. Or so they believe. He looks like Jesus' picture on Hayley's prayer card. They ask their school teacher about the hypothetical case of Jesus returning as a real person. "Would they crucify him?"

The teacher, not much over 20 years old, points out that the world hasn't changed all that much in 2000 years. But she hopes the good people would be stronger now. "We know what we would do, don't we?" The children have no idea. "Why, we'd Praise him, we would." And all the children repeated, "Praise him."

Hayley decides to feed him instead; she brings him wine and bread, and a pocket New Testament. When all the children come to see him they demand a story. After picking up the Bible for a moment, Jesus decides to read instead from a storybook about a young air hostess.

Jesus? Of course the powers-that-be discover him eventually and identify him as a criminal, a murderer in fact. In their exchanges, the children lose some of their innocence. The young son becomes very angry when a kitten dies. He had given him to "gentle Jesus."

But Jesus regains some of his own innocence. During a standoff between Jesus, armed with a pistol, and the parents and police, armed with shotguns, Hayley calls out through a tiny window, "I believe in you, Jesus. I love you."

She sends for all the other children, and they descend from every hill as the police arrive. "We all believe in you." Jesus, now called "Blakey" by the policeman, throws out his gun and steps into captivity. He stands with arms outstretched in crucifixion pose as the police frisk him and the children watch in silence. They are, some of them, so very small, three and four years old, watching Jesus. In his pocket the police find the prayer card Hayley gave him. "You'll need more than that, Blakey-lad," the detective says, and drops it on the ground.

Jesus ... Blakey ... walks through the crowd of children, hundreds of them, and is put into the police car. A few backfires as the car pulls away, and he is gone, through the close-ups of so many faces, boys and girls, younger and not so young, all captivated completely by this man.

Hayley, nearly in a silent panic, picks up Jesus' picture. Her face calms. She knows she has done what the good people do when Jesus comes. Even if her father, cradling a protective shotgun in one arm and comforting her with the other, doesn't understand.

Let me be like a little child, Lord. Trust you. Praise you. Come what may.

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