Last Sunday I was speaking at my home church (St Paul Fellowship) from the passage in John 4, with some emphasis on how Jesus was revealing himself to his disciples through the way he related to the Samaritan woman at the well. Before I actually delivered the sermon I went down to the basement of the church. And in truth, it’s what I always do before I speakto thoroughly empty my bladder so that I am not “uneasy” with emergencies that are difficult to respond to if one is in the middle of public speaking. You get my drift.
Upon returning to the sanctuary, I poked my head into the nursery where most of my grandchildren were being nursery attendees. My youngest grandchild, Cora, spotted me , gave me a big smile and said “French fries?”. It was very charming. Part of my grandfatherly commitments is to drive her 5 year old brother, Finn, to school and often to return him home after his 3 hour stint at preschool. And often , at that noon hour I stop by McDonald’s and pick up some chicken nuggets and french fries for lunch. And Cora is a huge fan of french fries. Consequently, whenever she sees me, “french fries” is the first words out of her mouth. I am THE PROVIDER OF FRENCH FRIES to Cora. From her vantage point , that is the key element of our relationship. And I’m good with that. No major emotional struggles on my part.
But I thought about our sweet little encounter as I got back to the sanctuary. And as I preached, I wove that example into the sermon. In the early part of their discipleship, the followers of Jesus had a very truncated view of just who he was and what he was up to on this mission and how they were to be part of it. He was the miracle worker, the one who would restore Israel to the greatness of the Davidic kingdom. But here he was in John 4 breaking the rules, talking to a Samaritan woman who was a BAD Samaritan woman. He was pushing them beyond the comfortable bounds that they had constructed in their heart of how the Messiah would behave and what his priorities would be.
So back to Cora and her french fries. This is what I might say to this beautiful little 18 month old that I dearly love. “You know, Cora, I’m glad to give you french fries and it is my pleasure indeed. But there is so much more that I want to give you that you will only perceive if you grow up and stay in relationship with me. I want to give you things that will help you live the very best kind of life that a human being can live. Right now you have no real idea of who I am and what I can bring to you. French fries? Sure. But as you grow up you will find that there are an unending series of things that I will give you that will do nothing but help you to live the very fullest kind of life that you were created for. And hopefully you will see me as so much more than french fries”
My oldest grandchild, Claire, is almost 12 and when she sees me she usually says something like “Hi Grandpa. I’ve missed you.” She’s the one who is the beneficiary of all the loose change I collect and periodically pass on to her with the stipulation that she gives 10% to the church or someone in need. And she does it. And she doesn’t love me merely for the loose change. She loves me in a healthy 12 year old way. I love it.
And here’s the big matter. So many believers in Jesus see him because he’s good for french fries . Or loose change. And there is so much more that he wants to impart to us. And for sure, this all requires growing up in Jesus and in the faith. But if Cora is 12 and all she sees me as is the french fry guy, that will be sad. And when Claire turns 18 and all she sees is the loose change guy, well, I won’t pout. But I want to give her so much more.
The story of the development of the disciples is so remarkable. Even at the Ascension in Luke 1, they were still laboring under a very limited view of who Jesus was. They were about to receive the Holy Spirit and that changed so much for them. I love Peter’s heart in his 2nd epistle where he relates that he is about to pass over into eternity. And he says these very wonderful words: “I think it is right as long as I am in this body to stir you up by way of reminder since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.” (2 Peter 1:13-14 ). This is the expression of a man who had grown up, and was now understanding the deep value of who this Jesus is. And he’s taking a place of imparting to fellow believers the weight and the value of Jesus. He knew that Jesus was more than french fries.
Jesus is so much more than the small dimensions that we tend to put on him. There is so much more that he wants to give to us. So much more that he desires to reveal to us. And to that glorious reality, I will continue to pray for you. And I solicit your prayers for me as well, that I don’t reduce this King to someone who just gives me stuff, but rather the one who constantly seeks to give Himself and the riches of his kingdom to such as us.
Peace and blessing to all of you,