Imagined from Luke 18:15-17
“The teacher is coming! The teacher is coming!”
Mama squeezed my hand even tighter and started walking even faster through town. We passed the market, and the temple, and Aunt Sarah’s house… All the places we usually go.
“Mama, where are we going?”
“To see the teacher,” she replied without even turning around. I didn’t like her answer. Mama and Papa had been talking about this Teacher person too much lately, and I didn’t understand what the big deal was.
Mama’s sigh told me that I was probably getting whiny. Mama hates when I get whiny. She steered us over to one side of the street to get out of the way of all the people hurrying along. They were probably going to see the Teacher, too. Then Mama squatted down to talk to me.
“My dear Hannah,” she said with a smile, “This teacher isn’t like the other men we hear at the Temple. His name is Jesus, and he’s very special.”
“You mean his Mama says he’s special like you say to me?” I frowned at her.
“Well, I’m sure his Mama thinks he’s special, too, but it’s so much more than that,” she said and wiped my hair out of my face. “People say Jesus has special powers from God and has done many wonderful things. Some people even say he might be the Messiah.”
“You mean the one we learn about on Sabbath? Will he be a king? Will his robes be shiny and golden?” I asked, but Mama didn’t answer. I had a million questions about what this Messiah-King would be like, and they all twirled around in my mind.
Mama just smiled, and we started walking fast again. Except now I was getting nervous and excited about meeting a king, and I had to run to keep up with Mama!
Finally, when we were almost all the way out of town, we came to an empty place that big kids play in sometimes. Except today it was full of grown-ups who all seemed to be waiting for something.
I saw my cousin Rachel, but before I could even wave at her, Mama and I were walking again. Mama picked me up this time, and we started bumping our way through the crowd. We walked toward a group of men over by this big rock. It kind of looked like they were guarding the rock or something near it.
Mama finally made it to the front of the crowd and started walking over to the rock, but the men stopped her.
“Jesus is very busy,” one of the big guys growled at her. “He doesn’t have time to play with children.”
“Don’t bother the teacher with little things,” another said.
The first guy started to guide mama away, but a hand reached out to stop him.
“Peter, NO,” said the most beautiful voice in the whole world.
Mama turned around to see who was talking. I thought someone handsome like Papa would have a voice like that, but there was just this regular guy with everyday robes whispering something angry at the guys, especially the one he called Peter. Once he was done being angry, he turned to face the crowd.
“Let the little children come to me,” he said with a smile. “Don’t get in their way, for theirs is the kingdom of God. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”
I guess that meant he was Jesus, but he didn’t look very special. I didn’t think a king would look so normal or be dressed like us.
“I thought he was supposed to be the king. Why aren’t his robes shiny? Why isn’t he wearing a crown?” Mama just shushed me and still didn’t answer any of my questions.
I tried to imagine this Jesus in a king’s robe and crown and palace, but I think they would just get in the way of things. Maybe he looked right just the way he was.
Some kids ran right up to Jesus on their own and started climbing all over him and making him laugh. Other parents brought their kids to him. Mama set me down and nudged me toward the growing crowd, but I held onto her leg. I didn’t want to get her in trouble again, and I didn’t want to go in that big crowd.
“Mama, let’s just go. It’s okay. There are too many now,” I said and tugged on her arm.
“Hannah, wait!” Oh! It was the voice again. And he knew my name!
I turned around real slow, and there he was, squatted down, looking me right in the eyes. His eyes were a real dark brown, but they were full of light and love, even brighter than Papa’s when he spins me around, or I make him laugh.
He held out his hand, and I took it! I took a stranger’s hand! After I realized what I had done, I looked up at Mama, thinking she would be really mad. But she wasn’t! She was crying happy tears like when we found out Aunt Sarah was going to have another baby. I was confused, but I decided that happy tears meant that going with Jesus was okay, even if he was a stranger.
He led me over to the rock and pulled me up into his lap. Other kids climbed up on the rock with us, too. Jesus started telling us a story about a sheep who got lost and how hard his shepherd worked to find him.
“Why would that sheep even leave when his shepherd loved him so much?” I imagined the sheep being so lonely and scared.
“That’s a really good question, Hannah,” Jesus laughed and then got more serious. “I wish I knew the answer.”
He gave me a big hug, and somehow I just knew that he really loved me, with an even bigger love than Mama and Papa.
“You’re Him, aren’t you?” I just barely whispered that into his shoulder. I didn’t think he heard me, but I turned to look up at him, and he winked at me!
“Sweet Hannah,” he said, and he put his hand on my head. “May you be like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah. May the Lord bless you and keep you; May the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; May the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
He hugged me close again, and I hugged him right back. I looked in his eyes one more time. I wanted to be able to remember them forever. Then I hopped down and ran back to Mama.
“Mama! Mama, guess what? Jesus said he loves me, and he blessed me just like Grandpa used to, but I feel even more blessed than I ever felt with Grandpa!”
Mama swung me up into a hug and we laughed together. She kissed me on the nose, and we started walking home. I turned around to take one last look at Jesus. And even though there were so many noisy people around him, he still found me in the crowd and winked again.
I smiled back at him and laid my head down on Mama’s shoulder. I couldn’t wait for Papa to get home from the fields, so I could tell him about meeting Jesus. Then maybe we could come back tomorrow, and Papa could meet him, too!