Last week I had two of my grandchildren and I took them to the lake for a late afternoon fishing expedition. Ezra was elated that we found a little bream bed and he and Colleyanna caught a total of five minnows. (Well, they may have been a little bigger than a typical minnow, but not much.) He thought the one that was six inches long was a whopper! He’s learning early that it’s a temptation to exaggerate fish sizes when you’re the one catching.
On our way home, I wanted to get Family Bible Time done so we could get fish cleaned. (Yes, we were cleaning and frying the minnows. They are the grandkids, so whatever they want…), I wanted to get the kids bathed and in the bed ASAP. It was already dark when we left the fishing bank.
I decided I’d tell them about the time Jesus—post-resurrection—apparently cooked fish over a little fire of coals for his disciples on the shores of the sea of Galilee—from John 21. As I began to tell the story, the conversation went like this:
Me: I want to tell you about the time, after Jesus had died on the cross and after He had come out of his grave, when he cooked some fish on the shore of a big lake and fed his disciples.
Ezra: Wait! Could you, please, oh please, just start at the very beginning. I just love this story.
Me: What do you mean “ start at the beginning”?
Ezra: You know, Mammy, could you tell the whole story? This is my favorite one.
Me: Do you mean from when Jesus was born?…Or from when He made the world?…You know there’s really no beginning of the story of Jesus, because He has always been.
Ezra, Let’s see, could you please start in that room where Jesus was washing their feet? That’s really the beginning of the whole story about when He died.
So I did. We talked about how Jesus was the King, who had always lived in a place where no feet ever got dirty.
Me: In fact, it’s a place where nothing ever gets dirty. And this King, who made these people was now on the floor, washing their dirty, smelly feet.
Ezra: Wait, let’s talk about heaven. There’s really a lot of things I don’t ‘unnastand’ about heaven. I know Jesus and God are there, but how can we just go to a place and just love, love being there forever and never go anyplace else?
Me: Well, we just have to trust God and know that we are going to love it there. In fact, there will not be one thing that we don’t absolutely love about heaven.
Ezra: I just cannot unnastand that.
Me: Well, when we don’t understand, that’s when we just believe God, because He always gives us what is the very best for us.
Then we went on to talk about Peter and what it means to “deny” and how we should never even want to pretend that we don’t know the Lord. Then we went on to focus on Judas.
Ezra: You mean Judas, this bad guy, was one of the disciples. Really? I don’t think I knew that.
Me: Yes. He was not always bad. There had been a time when He was good.
Ezra: So he was a good guy who turned into a bad guy?
Me: That’s right. We learn from Judas that we all have to be very careful all the time that we do not do things that we know are wrong. Judas was the one who took care of the bag that had the money in it and one day he started stealing money from that bag. At first, it probably made him feel bad, but he just kept doing it until he could really do it and not even think very much about it.
Then I told him all about how Judas took the thirty pieces of silver back and threw them down, but it was too late. The Jews would not heed his pleas to “undo” his sin. We talked about the meaning of “betray.” Then we talked about how it is that, sometimes, people do wrong things that they cannot ever fix again. “God will forgive us, but we cannot always put things back like they were before we sinned.”
Then we talked about the garden where Jesus prayed so hard that he would not have to die, if there was any other way. But there was no other way for us to get to go to heaven.
Ezra: We can’t skip the part about the nails. You won’t skip that part, will you?
Me: No, we cannot skip that part, because that’s the part where we can be saved. It’s all because he died for us…We (people) are the ones who sin, so we should have to be the ones who are punished, but Jesus, who never sinned even once, did that for us, so we could go live in heaven. We cannot skip that part. But before that, while Jesus was praying he asked Peter and James and John to watch and pray while he went into the garden to pray to God. But they kept falling asleep. He went to pray three times and each time Jesus came back, they were asleep. Do you think you could stay awake and watch if Jesus asked you to?
Ezra: They must have been very tired.
We chronicled, in three-year-old and five-year-old terms, the arrest and particularly, the Malchus incident in the garden. Ezra told me that Jesus “just picked up that ear and put it right back on that man.”
About that time, Glenn came out to our car to get the fish to clean them. We prayed together and vowed we’d finish the story tomorrow night.
Laying in the bed later that night, I asked Glenn how the cleaning went. “Good,” he said. “Ezra chose the order of cleaning. He wanted me to wait till last to clean the tiniest fish.”
“Why?” I asked.
“He said ‘That youngest one hasn’t got to see too many things yet.’ He said he was going to let him see a few more things before he died.”
I’m glad Ezra loves the story of the cross. What a privilege it is to “tell him the story of Jesus and to write on His heart every word.”
I’m glad he wants to talk about heaven. I’m glad he wants to “unnastand” more about that place we’ll never leave.