A Child’s Commentary on the Bible

Introduction

It is inevitable that a work like this needs an introduction. Children are as different from one another as other people are, and they develop at differing rates. In addition, they belong to different sorts of families, with different moral and cultural backgrounds. It might seem wisest to leave this sort of thing alone.

However, Jesus told us that unless we come to the Kingdom like a little child we will never enter it. As a result, I believe that it is high time children were given a commentary of their own, to help them as they, too, enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Bible is full of God, but it is almost as full of people, and people are a sinful, depraved bunch of creatures. There is much in the Bible that people will want to censor when reading to a child. That is certainly the parent’s prerogative, and indeed, sometimes duty. However, while I will probably deal with things from a pietistic perspective (because of my own background) I believe children are much more resilient than we often give them credit for, and frequently are being exposed to many frightful things in the schools to which they are sent, or in the media which they consume. Allowing them to have God’s perspective on these things is a gift.

The Bible was written in Hebrew, among the ancient Jewish people, and in Greek, among slightly less ancient Jewish, Greek, and Roman people. Their culture was different than ours, and culture is inevitably expressed through language. I believe that the Bible is without error in its original autographs, but that doesn’t mean that I believe an English, American understanding is always correct. Sometimes the Bible expresses things in a way that sounds like one thing in a 21st Century ear, but would have sounded different in the ear of a 3rd Century BC Hebrew. I am not a scholar of these things, but I will try to be clear when my interpretation is based upon a supposition of this sort.

Finally, all Bible commentaries are presumptuous. You should really be reading the Bible! Cliffs Notes and summaries are popular, but there is a reason that courses are never taught about the Cliffs Notes version of Shakespeare’s plays, etc. The play is the thing, not the summary of it, and the Bible is the thing, not the commentary on it. It is my hope that you will be helped in understanding the Bible through this work, and that you will thereby come to know God more closely, but there is no substitute for reading His own work, the love letter written across millennia to His Bride.

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A Christmas to Remember

Lately my spam folder has been filling up with emails telling me that I have an opportunity to give my children a Christmas they will always remember. I haven’t read the messages to see what will accomplish this feat — I’m a little lazy that way. However, it got me to think about one Christmas, when my daughter was young, that I tried to give her a memorable Christmas.

This was back in the 90s, and we were all much more naïve about the Internet, etc. There was a website that offered the ability to “send an email to Santa” on behalf of your kids. I thought it was a cute idea, so I called my daughter in to my office to compose her note to Santa. She wasn’t sure, at first, what she wanted to ask Santa to bring her, but finally settled on a pair of ballet shoes.

We hit send, and I realized that ballet shoes hadn’t been on the radar for either my wife or me. It was Christmas eve, and I went out in the snow to look for ballet shoes in my daughter’s size that wouldn’t break the bank. I finally found them in a little shop that was ready to close for the evening. I bought the slippers, rushed home, and packed them under the tree for Christmas morning.

At the time, my daughter was delighted with her gift, and she went on to ballet lessons for a few years until she moved on to something else. However, the important lesson for me was this: she doesn’t remember. She knows it happened, because we talk about parenting, and cute things that happened, and tricks we played, and times the tricks backfired on us. However, she has no recollection of that particular Christmas. What she does remember is growing up knowing that Santa was a game we played with one another, and that presents really came from our friends and family.

So, make it a Christmas they’ll never forget? Maybe not. Just as the many gifts that get less play than the boxes they came in, most of our efforts to make this Christmas inoubliable end with the child surprising us with an astonishing lack of concern with the things of this world, and the current trends. Perhaps that’s one reason the “child” of Christmas, many years after His celebrated birth, admonished us to remember that, unless one comes like a little child, one will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Merry Christmas!

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