Matthew 21:14-16. The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, ” Have you never read, ” ‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’?” And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.
I never got it. It actually surprised me the first time it happened. The emotion that rose up unexpectedly. From out of nowhere. I just didn’t get it – until now. Or until yesterday when I re-read, in my opinion, one of the most powerful passages in scripture. It’s one of the many events that occur between Palm Sunday and Easter and I bet, like me, you may be surprised at its significance.
Allow me a moment to back up. When Tom and I were first married we served on staff at a large congregation in Lafayette, IN. We hoped to have children someday but had no immediate plans. We loved our life and ministry – Tom as an assistant pastor and me as the Director of Christian Education. One of my main responsibilities was Youth Ministry so I spent a good deal of time with kids. It was amazing.
One Friday evening the elementary school our church supported held a music program featuring both choral and instrumental talents of children in grades Pre-K-8. It was at this event where the above mentioned unexpected emotion made its debut. It was the littlest of the bunch – the Pre- K that made the impact. They were each dressed in their finest all lined up on risers in front of the crowd of proud parents. In the middle of their sweet melody sung at the top of their lungs – I started to tear up. I was crying and I did not have my own child that moved to me to it in a proud mom moment. It wasn’t just a single tear that wanted to escape down my cheek but I was ready to sob. What in the world? I just kept thinking, “We’re getting a glimpse in to heaven.” I believed that the voices of children was a blessings sent straight from our God above. And yesterday I found out – I was exactly right.
In the above verse we see Jesus, shortly after his triumphant entrance into Jerusalem the Sunday of Passover week. The day we now refer to as Palm Sunday. People of all ages had lined the streets. We see specific mention of the CHILDREN and the shouts of Hosanna that rang through the air. And this just ticked the teachers of the law right off. The NIV translation describes them as ‘indignant.’ The ERV – ‘ Angry.’ TLB – ‘disturbed.’ TPT – ‘furious.’ WOW. Doesn’t that just seem odd? Children – causing such an emotional response out of the religious leaders. These grown men moved to anger, fury, indignation… because of the praise of little children?
This next part…
This is the part that if we were together – I would make you sit down so I knew I had your FULL, 100% attention. I would make you put your phone away and I may even take your face in my hands. So listen in….
When Jesus calmly responds to the leaders question “Do you hear what these children are saying?” he quotes Psalm 8:2...’O Lord, O Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. From the LIPS OF CHILDREN and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies to silence the foe of the avenger.’ Jesus is using the voices of children to …
SILENCE THE FOE and the AVENGER. The darnkess is being pushed away by THE VOICES OF CHILDREN.
Look at the note from the Concordia Study bible on the meaning of Psalm 8:2. “The mighty God, whose glory is displayed across the face of the heavens, appoints and evokes the praise of LITTLE CHILDREN to silence the dark powers arrayed against him.
The emotion that rose up in me in the cafeteria almost 30 years ago and the emotions of the religious leaders ….hundreds of years ago…. finds its root in the same place. The incredible power of God coming through a most unexpected source – the voices of little children. When it hit me it was comforting and encouraging and up lifting. When it hit the teachers of the law hardend hearts it was condemning and irritating. The truth and power of God’s love is like that – it won’t, it can’t leave you neutral. As Jesus walked through the darkest week of his earthly life, a light was going before him… fueled by the voice of the littles.
As we continue to seek places of peace and comfort in our ever changing world we may be overlooking one simple yet powerful source – the voices of children. The voices that rang out on the streets of Jerusalem. The voices that now fill the homes of families 24 hours a day. The voices that at moments may be the source of irritation or fear. These beautiful voices, when raised in praise, push back the darkness. It’s spiritual warfare at its finest. Such a brilliant yet surprising plan. But isn’t that just like God – bringing strategies against the darkness we would least expect? It’s his theme all through scripture and one we would be wise to remember – using the weak to defeat the strong. The foolish to silence the wise. David, Gideon, Moses, Paul…. Jesus.
When our circumstances point to apparent defeat. When our plans melt into nothing – we trust our creator God, the one who is always right, who is always on time, who will never leave us or forsake us. Listen…
His Victory cry is being raised….. from a most beautiful place…
the mouths of children.
Loving you where you are. Pointing you forward to where He is.