The other morning, I decided to read the crucifixion story to my two little girls, hoping they would somehow understand how serious and heartbreaking it was. Although you’d think that would be hard for a three and a five-year-old, kids can surprise you.
As we read through the passage in Matthew 27, I noticed for the first time how many people were making fun of Jesus in His last moments – the soldiers, the criminals hanging with him, the priests, and the people passing by. He was the laughingstock of Calvary. That also stood out to my little girls, who get their feelings hurt when other kids are unkind, and both of them said, “That’s not very nice.”
As we reached the climax of the passage where Jesus cries out to His Father, I sensed a reminder from the Holy Spirit that I needed to read His words with great feeling. And when I read, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” my three-year-old daughter furrowed her brow, and in the most compassionate voice, she said something that took me by surprise: “He wants His Daddy.”
She was right, and as we read the rest of the passage, I had trouble keeping my composure. I was seeing it from a more proper perspective: through the eyes of a child who is terrified of the thought of being left alone without a parent.
Jesus said, “‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven'” (Matthew 18:3-4). And Jesus, the absolute greatest in the kingdom, did what any child would do if he had been left naked and alone by his Dad: He cried out for Him.
I can’t even write those words without tears coming to my eyes. I think of the horror of abandoning my child in a pitch black warehouse to be beaten until she paid the full price for someone else’s sins – all to save a world that might appreciate what she did. No. I could not do it; I would not do it. But our Heavenly Dad abandoned His only Son in an audacious effort to get His family back and fill His house with lost children like you and me. How He loves us – how very deeply He must love us.
I cannot even begin to understand it – but something tells me that my three-year-old can.