This past Monday I took Adeline to Bounce U near Deptford. I have been planning to take her for a few weeks as she loves bounce houses. From the first time she went on one at a friend’s 1st Birthday Party up until Woodstown’s Fall Festival when Robert literally had to climb in and drag her out kicking and screaming to allow other kids a turn. I was so excited to take her to a room full of bouncy houses and slides and games. Knowing she would love it.
Well sometimes parents are just dead wrong! Even when we pulled into the parking lot (a place she has never been) she told me “Mom, I don’t want to go in.” I simply dismissed this comment as she had no idea where we were, nor all the fun she was about to encounter bouncing around for 2 hours.
Enter irony here. Immediately upon entering the room full of various inflated devices, intended for hours of bouncing fun, Adeline’s hands go over her ears and she begins to cry. “It’s too noisy, ” she says over and over. She simply couldn’t get past the noise. Irony defined in this moment: the despised and overwhelming noise symbolizes air blown into machines to inflate them, allowing you to bounce and she loves to bounce. But wait, here comes mother of the year. I decided to climb up a huge sliding board with her and then let her go down (ok maybe I gave her a little push assured she would then catch on to the fun being had by the other 5 or 6 kids her age). Nope! Not quite. More tears, more yelling its too noisy, and more horror in those beautiful blue eyes. She wouldn’t step foot near them, wouldn’t take her hands down, nothing I could do or say- we had to leave the entire place to get her to take her hands down and stop crying. I tried to distract her, to trick her into fun, to encourage her by going in with her (32 week pregnant lady enters bounce house with 2 year old is quite the image) Not ONE single bounce happen Monday March 10th at Bounce U – absolutely no fun and no smiles. For Adeline Bell, there was just noise. And there is no way I was convincing her of ANYTHING else. No trick would work this time.
Maybe this is a strange connection but this morning when reading Luke 20 I was reminded of my Monday morning with Adeline. Jesus tells The Parable of the Tenants. Do you know this one? The vineyard owner who rents his land to farmers and then sends his servants to collect the fruit. His 3 servants are beat badly, treated shamefully, and sent away. Then he sends his son “whom I love”, he says. And worse even, the tenants throw him out and kill him. Jesus connects it with Psalm 118, “The stone the builders rejected as become the cornerstone.” And it becomes clear to the teachers of the law and chief priests that the parable is spoken against them. They don’t like this, not one bit. So, they send spies with the goal of tripping up Jesus, that he might be arrested (because they were too afraid of the people to go after him directly).
Trying to trick Jesus? Maybe not the brightest idea. Kind of like trying to trick a toddler into bouncy house fun. Not gonna happen! They question him about paying taxes to Caesar, thinking they will catch him and be able to hand him over to the authorities. Not only were they unable to trap him, but they were “astonished by his answer, they became silent.”
Seems like pretty clear evidence they had no clue who they were dealing with- proof of their blindness. Clearly they did not realize who he was, or they would have recognized the impossibility of tricking Jesus. Instead, the spies they send are ASTONISHED by the answer Jesus gives in regards to paying taxes to Ceasar. Why? They thought they had him tricked by leaving him too poor options: disregard God or denounce the Roman government, and his answer did neither. Instead, it astonished them.
There is nothing tricky about our faith or Jesus. This does not define it as easy. But one thing is simple: Jesus is the son of God, Savior of the world, the One who heals, the One who gives life to the fullest- the Light of this dark world. You either get it, embrace it, know it – or you do not. And our lives evidence the place we stand and the understanding we have of who Jesus is. At least they should.
A good teacher? Eh, in part. A prophet? Yeah, but a bit of an understatement. Son of the only living God who entered our world, died for our sins, resurrected from the grave, and promises us life everlasting? DING DING! Right answer. There is no trick there. And there is no trapping Jesus. There is no making him anything else.
Do you see the truth or is it muffled by the sounds of he world pulling you elsewhere? Is the very One that intends to give you the greatest joy overpowered by the noise of your world. Are you missing the joy because of the noise?
Adeline could not get past the noise of the machines (don’t worry I will make sure the pediatrician checks her ears to be sure there is nothing more there). She couldn’t arrive at the place of joy usually brought on by the bouncy house experience.
But yet, even the simplicity of a 2 year old teaches me so much about my faith. Monday’s failed attempt at Bounce U aside, all week she has been preparing for her Birthday party this Saturday, a Princess Tea Party with her best girlfriends. She has excitedly helped me paint decorations and of course has been wearing her princess tiara for about 5 days now. Yesterday, when I arrived home at lunch time she, of course, was wearing her party tiara as she announced, “My birthday is coming! My birthday is coming!” She knows when something good is coming. She knows that tiaras, princess dresses, tea, cupcakes, and girlfriends are something to be excited about! Something to announce out loud! Something that will bring great joy!
As I thought about this parable in Luke, and all that the crowd missed about Jesus. I was graciously reminded of the gift I have been given. The gift of Jesus – of knowing exactly who He is and what He has done for me. The gift of love and of life.
I am also reminded of the great responsibility that comes with this gift. That of sharing it, of speaking it, of announcing it with excitement and anticipation of what is to come because of who Christ is and what he has done.
Sometimes life gets noisy, too noisy to hear what we really need to hear. Sometimes the noise makes us lose sight of the joy to which we have access. We forget to wear our tiaras and celebrate what we have.
So here is our chance to take take our hands down from our covered ears, to embrace the Truth of who Jesus is and what he has done for us, and to joyfully proclaim to the world that He is Coming!