God's Little Children
John 13:33 Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’
This is the night of Jesus' final meal with his disciples. Jesus had already washed their feet and they had finished eating. Judas left the room, bent on betraying his master, and the intimate group that remained didn't quite understand what was happening. In this moment Jesus addressed his "little children." The word used here is one of endearment, used only this one time in the Gospels. John will reuse the term later in his Epistles -- but it is the only moment that we experience Jesus using it for these, his dearly beloved disciples. They were no longer simply a rag-tag group of followers wanting to be fed, taught and experience miracles, they had become one with him -- they were now part of the family. This is what pained Jesus deeply, for they could not remain together, and he would have to suffer alone in the days ahead.
It's interesting that Jesus uses this word after Judas leaves the room. Now, this remaining small group reflects those who had become his dear little children. They were his and as a result, they were also the Father's. The word used here for the disciples is also a reflection of the relationship into which we are all invited. We may all have the privilege of becoming these "little children." What does that mean for us? We are to recognize that we are God's children, and as such, we belong to him and not to the world. Later that same night Jesus would spend time in prayer where he would pour out his heart to the Father. In that prayer he would affirm the unity of the relationship between Jesus and his Father. However, he would push even further and speak of the fact that the disciples were now also in him, and hence, in the Father. The children of the Father are directly united to him -- and because of Christ and what he has done for us, we are invited into fellowship with the holy Trinity. As such, we are to be God's children here on this earth, his representatives, serving our Father day in and day out.
As dear little children we must also realize that there is much ahead for us spiritually. We are God's children and we are to be encouraged throughout our lives to be growing up into him -- into spiritual maturity. The disciples were not spiritually mature, even though they were united to God through Christ. Jesus knew there was so much more for them to learn and more spiritual growth and development to be seen in them. The same is true for us. If any of us think that we have arrived spiritually, then we are simply fooling ourselves. If our spiritual journey is about uniting with our Father, then to think that we have arrived spiritually means that we think that we have become equal with God. How foolish is that! Instead, as his dear children we are invited into a relationship with him in which we may continue to grow and develop throughout our entire lives. This is the beauty of being united with God as his dear children. He will always encourage us on to higher heights than we have ever experienced!
Finally, it is in this term of endearment that we experience the tenderness of Jesus' heart. I believe his heart was already breaking over what he knew they would experience in their lives. They had no idea what the next few days would hold, let alone their entire lives. Those who join their hearts to Christ will not always have an easy journey. However, they will experience the tenderness of the Savior who has given his very blood for us. All of this has been done so that we may spend all of eternity with our Father. Dear children, the journey to eternal life may be strewn with troubles, and yet, we are to take heart, for Jesus has overcome the world!
We are truly a blessed people when we realize that we are God's dear little children. May we embrace our Father, returning the love which he has showered on us.
Lord, thank you for the blessings of being your child. Amen.