The next day Barabbas’ children were playing outside with some of their friends when Benjamin’s children came along and asked to join them.
As they played, Jake, Benjamin’s youngest son started to sob. “Why are you crying?” asked Ruth, Barabbas’ daughter.
“S-somebody killed our father--” answered Joseph. "--murdered him while trying to rob his shop."
“Yeah,” added Jake, “And our Mom won’t let us go to see Jesus. I’m sure he could bring him back to life.”
“Who’s Jesus?” Asked Caleb
“Oh, he’s a prophet and miracle worker our friends told us about. They say he can even raise the dead.”
“Well, we’re worried about our father too,” replied Jason. “He’s been gone for some time now and we don’t know where he is.”
“Well I’m sure,” asserted Jake, "that if your mom would let you go see him, he could find your father for you."
“Yes,” replied another of their friends, “Why don’t you come into town and talk to Jesus about it?”
“Yes,” echoed another young voice, “surely he can help you get your father back.”
“Let’s run and ask Momma.”
Deborah didn’t know what to say when the children asked her about going to see Jesus. But they were so excited about it. “A prophet, eh? Well, all right. But you must stay close to me.”
The streets were crowded as usual as they entered the main part of the city. They looked hard, but could see no sign of the prophet and were afraid they may have missed him. Deborah saw a poor but happy looking woman on the side of the street and decided to ask her. “Do you know where we might find the prophet, Jesus?”
“Oh,” she replied, “You mean Jesus of Nazareth? Oh, he’s much more than a prophet. I think he must be the Messiah. You know, I was possessed with seven demons and he cast them out of me.”
Deborah shuddered. “Seven demons? That must have been horrible.”
“Yes, I was never myself. I was always doing crazy and harmful things and I had no control over what I was doing. But I don’t want to talk more about that. Thank God I met Jesus and he set me free. He’s the reason I’m in my right mind today.“
“But have you seen him today?”
“Yes, as a matter of fact, he’s straight ahead of you. If you keep on going in the direction you were, you’re sure to find him."
Then, one of the children spotted a small crowd just ahead.
“Look, Mom, a crowd of people gathered around someone over there. It must be him. He must be there, teaching those people.”
“Yes, that must be him.” answered the woman.
“Deborah looked at the crowd and then back to the woman. “Thank you so much for your help and your information. By the way, what is your name?"
“Mary. I’m Mary of Magdala.”
“Goodbye Mary of Magdala. Perhaps we will meet again.”
As they drew closer, they could see him, sitting on a small hill.
“That’s him alright,” assured one of the neighbor children.
As they eagerly approached, they could hear him saying, with a tone of great authority, “He who humbles himself shall be exalted.” A strange saying, thought Deborah, but true.
There were several other mothers who also wanted to bring their children to see Jesus. To the dismay of all, the disciples were turning them all away. “Don’t bother the master. He’s much too busy with his important teachings to be bothered with children.”
The hearts of the children sank when they heard this. Had they come all this way for nothing?
But, just then, the strong voice of the master rose above the din. “What are you saying?” He asked the disciples. “Allow the little children to come to me and don’t forbid them, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
Deborah was impressed, not only by the master’s compassion and concern for the children, but also by the deeper meaning which seemed to be implied in his words. “‘Of such is the kingdom---.’ “So", she thought, "in order to be in the kingdom of heaven, we must all come as little children. And how do little children come? Simply, humbly and unquestioningly with faith. There is much truth in those few words. O’ God, forgive us for being so complicated, and give us all the simple faith of a child."
Now the hearts of the children were joyful and hopeful again. They waited in the line as one by one the master blessed the little ones. When Caleb and Jason and the others reached the master, they blurted out, “Master, we are so worried about our father. He has been away from us for so long and we don’t know when he’ll come back.”
The master looked at them. It was a deeply understanding and sympathetic look. But then He said, “I know your concern, children, but I’m afraid I can’t promise you that your father will be home soon. However, we must pray and hope for the best.” With that, he laid his hands on them and prayed, saying, “Father, if it be possible, bring these children’s father back to them speedily. Nevertheless, let your will be done and let us accept your will. Whatever be the case, bless these children and this home. May your peace abound there. In your holy name, amen.”
They began their walk back to the house in silence. Then one of the neighbor children spoke. “I wonder why he didn’t say anything definite about your father.”
“Yeah,” said Caleb. “I thought you said he was supposed to be such a great prophet.”
“Well, he did cast seven demons outa that lady.”
“—If you can believe her.”
“Well, why would someone make up something’ like that?”
“I don’t know, but why didn’t he say anything about our father?”
“Well,” ventured another neighbor child, “maybe there was nothing to say. Sometimes it’s like that with prophets. You never know. Sometimes they tell you great things about the future, an’ sometimes they don’t. Depends on how the spirit moves ‘em.”
“Yes,” added an older, more intelligent child, “maybe, for some unknown reason, it’s supposed to be. I mean that maybe it’s the LORD’s will that your father is away from you for now.”
“Maybe!” sighed Caleb.
“So, then,” added little Ruth, “We jis’ have t’ ‘crept it.”
“--And pray,” added the neighbor child.
“--And have faith,” added Jake. “He mentioned that. Let’s not forget it. Have faith. It means keep on believing, no matter what."
"Daddy will come back, he will!”
Deborah was silent, wondering at the wisdom her children were expounding, and also still thinking of the words the master had said. “Truly, ‘…of such is the kingdom.’”
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