Bailey’s Jesus… A beautiful story
(written by Betty Sturgeon Hall)
God recently allowed me to see Jesus through the eyes of someone seeing Him for the first time. Since most of us have the advantage of knowing how the story ends, we can easily forget the cost of our redemption and the love of our Savior.
Every year we attend a local church pageant that tells the story of Jesus from His birth through His resurrection. It is a spectacular event, with live animals and hundreds of cast members in realistic costumes. The magi enter from the rear of the huge auditorium, on Ilamas, descending the steps in pomp and majesty. Roman soldiers look huge and menacing in their costumes and makeup.
Of all the years we have attended, one holds very special memories for me. It was the year we took our then three-year-old granddaughter, Bailey, for the first time. She was mesmerized throughout the entire play. She was not just watching, but she was involved as if she were a participant.
She watched as Joseph and Mary traveled to the Inn, and she was thrilled when she saw the baby Jesus in His mother’s arms. When Jesus, on a young donkey, descended the steps from the back of the auditorium (depicting His triumphal entry into Jerusalem) Bailey was ecstatic. As he neared our aisle, Bailey began to jump up and down. She screamed, “Jesus, Jesus! There’s Jesus!”…not just saying the words, but exclaiming them with every fiber of her being. She alternated between screaming his name and hugging us. “It’s Jesus. Look!” Tears filled my eyes as I looked at Jesus through the eyes of a child who was so in love with Him and seeing Him for the first time. How like the blind beggar who screamed out in reckless abandon, “Jesus, Jesus!”…afraid he might miss Him…not caring what others thought. (Mark 10:46-52)
Then came the arrest scene. On stage, the soldiers shoved and slapped Jesus as they moved Him from the Garden of Gethsemane to appear before Pilate. Bailey responded, with terror and anger, as if she were in the crowd of women. “Stop it!” she screamed. “Bad soldiers. Stop it!” As I watched her reaction, I suddenly wished we had talked to her before the play. I kept telling her, “Bailey, it’s okay. They are just pretending.” However, her response was, “They are hurting Jesus! Stop it!” She stood in her seat, reacting to each and every move. People around us, at first, smiled at her reaction. Then they quit smiling and began to watch her, as she watched Him. In a most powerful scene the soldiers lead Jesus, carrying the cross, down the steps of the auditorium from the back. They were yelling, whipping, and cursing at Jesus who appeared to be bloodied and beaten. Bailey was now hysterical. “Stop it! Soldiers, stop it!” she screamed. In her young mind she
must have been wondering why so many people all around her did nothing to help. She then began to cry instead of scream. “Jesus, oh, Jesus,” she said. People all around us began to weep as we all watched this devoted little disciple see her Jesus beaten and killed, as those first century disciples had seen. Going back and forth between her mother’s lap and mine, for comfort, she was distraught. I kept saying, “Bailey, it’s okay. Jesus is going to be okay. These are just people pretending to be soldiers. She looked at me like I was crazy. As she sat in my lap, we talked through the cross and burial. “Watch, Bailey, watch for Jesus!” The tomb began to tremble, and lightning flashed, as the stone rolled away. A Super Bowl touchdown cheer could not come close to matching this little one’s reaction to the resurrection. “Jesus! He’s okay. Mommy, it’s Jesus!”
I prayed that she was not going to be traumatized by this event, but that she would remember it. I shall never forget it. I shall never forget seeing Jesus’ suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection through the eyes of such a young child.
Following the pageant, all of the actors assembled in the foyer to be greeted by the audience. As we passed by some of the soldiers, Bailey screamed out, “Bad soldier. Don’t you hurt Jesus.” The actor who portrayed Jesus was some distance away, surrounded by well-wishers and friends. Bailey broke away from us and ran toward him, wrapping herself around his legs and holding on for dear life. He hugged her and said, “Jesus loves you.” She would not let go. She kept clinging to Him, laughing and calling His name. She was not about to let go of her Jesus.
I like to think that God in heaven stopped whatever was going on that day, and asked all of the angels to watch Bailey. Perhaps He even said, “Now, look there! You see what I meant when I said, ‘Of such is the kingdom of heaven?'”
Bailey’s reaction should be our reaction every single day of our lives. When we think of Him…who He is…what He did for us…what He offers to us…how can we do anything less than worship Him.