Portraits fill our home.
It appears that we have chronicled every moment of my three, sweet children’s lives – from first bath to first soccer goal. It’s great. You can walk around our home and be reminded of each of their stories.
We create portraits of our kids because we want to remember a unique moment in someone’s story.
There is a portrait that is clear in my memory from my own childhood. At the end of the hallway in my grandparent’s home was a portrait of my grandfather in the U.S. Army Air Force Reserves (which later became the United States Air Force).
It was taken in the mid-40s, many decades before I was born; yet, it is one of my clearest memories of my grandfather. Why? That portrait gives me a way to remember a unique moment in my grandfather’s story. I wasn’t there when the portrait was created, but the portrait shaped my understanding of my grandfather.
We have portraits of Jesus. Jesus was one man who lived in human history, but each person who encountered Jesus experience him in a different way. We see some of those portraits in the stories of Scripture.
Each of the Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, give us a unique perspective, or portrait, of Jesus. They aren’t contrary to one another, but they are different. Taken together they give us a picture of a first-century Palestinian Jew who came to take away the sins of the world. Taken as unique portraits, these four give us distinct insight into the character and mission of Jesus.
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is a servant to all. He is the fulfillment of the suffering servant that Isaiah prophesied would come and suffer on behalf of the people who rejected him.
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus is Lord over all. He has deep compassion for the poor and marginalized in society, including the Gentiles and women.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus is the Savior of the world who came to forgive sins and usher in a new kingdom.
Which brings us to the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew, a disciple and follower of Jesus, writes a Gospel that reveals Jesus as the long awaited King of the Jews. Matthew’s portrait is completely unique from the others because he establishes Jesus’ royalty. There is no question that Jesus’ arrival is a royal coronation and his birth is seen as a threat to the current King. The wise men brought royal gifts to Jesus the king. When tempted by Satan, he offers Jesus authority over all kingdoms. The Sermon on the Mount lays out the laws for his royal kingdom. His miracles are his royal testimonial. He is proclaimed the son of David. His royal entrance into Jerusalem is marked by a palm-waving crowd. He claims authority over the angels. While facing his crucifixion, he predicts his own coming kingdom. And at the end of Matthew’s portrait of Jesus, Jesus affirms his own royalty by saying, “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
As we teach our kids to pray boldly to Jesus, maybe nothing is as important as their understanding that, through faith, Jesus is their king. Jesus is revealed to us in the Bible as the one that all of the stories of the Bible predicted would come. He is also a king who was rejected by his friends and knows what it feels like to be alone. He is in charge from Heaven and nothing is beyond his control.
No other Gospel shows Jesus so bitterly rejected. At his conception, his mother, Mary, lived in danger of rejection from her soon-to-be husband. Upon hearing of his birth, King Herod tried to have him killed. The threat of death was so widespread that his family hurried back to Nazareth to live in relative obscurity for nearly 30 years. The prophet John, who announced his arrival, was beheaded. During his public ministry, Jesus proclaims, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown.” As Jesus hung on a cross for the sins of those who have rejected him, he cried aloud the words of Psalm 22:1, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Upon the death of God’s only Son, no eulogy was offered, no public service planned or attended, no pricey monument erected – Jesus died a rejected king, buried in a borrowed grave.
Jesus was a person just like us. He felt sadness, anger, loneliness, and was afraid. Why can our children pray boldly to Jesus – because he is their friend and there isn’t an emotion we feel that Jesus didn’t also experience. We can approach Jesus with how we feel because he understands!
Jesus is a king who is still in charge – reigning from Heaven! A king who will return on clouds of glory to rule and reign over all of creation. A king whose kingdom is both now and not yet. A kingdom which we get glimpses of by the working of the Holy Spirit, but a kingdom whose culmination we eagerly anticipate.
As we teach our children to pray boldly to Jesus, we can remind our kids of these three things:
- Pray Confidently. Jesus is in charge! He sits on his throne in Heaven. He wants to give his good gifts to his children. Our kids can pray confidently knowing that Jesus will answer every prayer. He will answer ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ or ‘not now,’ and we can know that whatever his answer to our prayers, it is always in our best interest. Jesus is good and we can confidently approach him with all of our needs.
- Pray Humbly. Jesus is our king who suffered in our place for our sin. We were destined for life apart from Jesus, but Jesus would not have it! So, he came lived the life we could never live and died in our place so we can be his friend and live with him forever. When our kids pray to our good King Jesus, we must remember how much Jesus has done for us. We are able to pray boldly because Jesus has already done so much for us. We should help our kids have a heart of thanksgiving as we pray for our own hopes and desires. Jesus made a way where there seemed no way.
- Pray Boldly. Jesus is a good king. There is nothing about his nature that wants to do anything other than bless and protect his children. Our kids can pray boldly because Jesus is always good and will do whatever necessary to make himself known in the world and in our own lives. Our kids can pray boldly because Jesus loves them and only wants good things for them. Ask. Ask Big. Ask Boldly.