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Looking Back: Only A Little Child

From Dec 1932


Two countrymen, roughly dressed, were travelling from the hills of Judea to Bethlehem. They were workers in the vineyards, as was evident from the frequent references made by the taller, who was named Silas.

“Tis a fool’s errand,” he grumbled. “We shall lose a day’s wage. Jonathan will be given my vine terraces to clean.”

“The day’s work and its reward are all you care for, Silas,” said his companion Simon in a tone of reproach. “They fill your life.”

“And you, with your visions – what reward do THEY bring? “ retorted Silas tauntingly.

Simon did not reply. Spiritual things were very real and very satisfying to him, but he could never bring his fellow-worker to understand.

“If what John told us is true we would have heard more of the matter,” Simon went on. “I tell you, if a new King of the Jews had appeared, the land would be in an uproar. Whereas……” he pointed to the peasants going quietly about their winter work.

“John is not the one to deceive. He has a lively fancy, yes, but I have ever found him to tell the truth.”

“Well, we shall soon prove it for ourselves.”

They entered Bethlehem and found it crowded. The bustle and noise confused these men of the quiet hills. They were jostled by camels and asses and their drivers. Their inquiries were received with impatience. No one had heard of the appearance of a Messiah-King.

One man at last, standing in a doorway, responded, laughing:

“Oh that story! Aye. There’s the inn yonder. You’ll find him there.”

In the courtyard of the inn they were referred to a stable in a limestone rock close by.

They entered. Beside a cattle manger they saw the graceful form of a young woman bending over a sleeping infant. They saluted her and approached the manger.

Simon looked down, startled. It seemed to him that the face of the child was illuminated by a strange  radiance.

But Silas saw nothing of the radiance. He gave a gesture of contempt.

“There’s your king,” he said. “I told you we were being befooled. A day’s wage gone……Only a little child.”

His companion stroked his beard thoughtfully and continued to gaze at the sleeping infant in silence. Then slowly he said:

“Our father, Abraham was a little child. Moses was a child, Caesar was a little child. My good Silas, a little child can change the world.”

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“Jesus called a little child unto Him and said, “Whoso shall receive one such little child in My name receiveth Me. But who so shall offend one of these little ones….”


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