Remembering that Smile!

Read: Matthew 19:13-14; Mark 9:36; John 14:1-2; Acts 7:54-59


On January 22, 2022 in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood, 8-year-old Melissa was walking with her mother when the unthinkable occurred. Shots were fired, and little Melissa was killed in the crossfire of a gang fight. Sadly, this precious child was only one of many whose families must deal with grief caused by the wicked acts of others; however, there is a man whose desire is that Melissa will not be forgotten. His name is Milton Coronado, and the blessing he shares, on a too- regular basis, springs from his own loss. When Mr. Coronado was 21 years old, his father was shot and killed in the same neighborhood where Melissa's life was so tragically ended. At that time, Milton Coronado went to work, and he painted a mural in honor and memory of his dad. Since that time, he has created ten such works of art. This most recent one was in honor of Melissa, and it graces the side of a building about three blocks from where she was shot. He painted her with her beautiful smile. She is surrounded by a rainbow, fluffy white clouds, soft raindrops, red balloons, and bright flowers. It was the artist's desire that the innocence, hope, purity, joy and creativity of a child be on display in his mural.

Written to look as if a child wrote it, there is a Bible verse in Spanish which reads: "The Kingdom of God Belongs to Such Children.", Matthew 18:3. The beauty of Mr. Coronado's mural is that it helps people remember the smiles and distinctiveness of the lives he memorializes.


Let's turn a corner and think about remembering another smile. Whose? Jesus'. Yes, I know that although we see the Savior's tears poured out in the scriptures, John 11:35, we don't have a specific reference that speaks of Jesus smiling. Even so, no doubt, Jesus' face shone with a look that said welcome when He wanted the children to be brought to Him. It was then that He picked them up and blessed them. It is surely not doing any violence to the scriptures if we think of the Savior smiling as He took them into His arms, Mark 9:36.


With that image of the Lord in mind, let's start in Matthew 11 to see other circumstances where Jesus might also have been smiling. It is here that we read of Jesus rejoicing in the Holy Spirit. It's kind of ironic because the Master had just finished denouncing the cities which rejected Him, Matthew 11:20-24, but right after that, He was filled with joy. Why? Because God had revealed His precious truth to those He called babes, Luke 10:21. The humble ones received, but those who believed that they were already full went without, Luke 18:9-14. That brought the Lord joy. Why wouldn't He rejoice? Can you picture His smile when those whom the world considered to be unimportant, were enlightened?


I remember many years ago during a Bible study when the Holy Spirit lit the darkness for one of the ladies. Oh my, she was like a little one at Christmas because God showed her truth she hadn't understood prior to that day. If I had joy in what God had revealed to her, what about the Living Word Himself. I imagine the joy He experienced when this woman's eyes were opened, even just a bit. Surely, her understanding could have resulted in His smiling.


Next, let's go to Acts 7 where we read the bold and beautiful testimony of Stephen. No converts here. At least none make themselves known at this time. Later we read that Saul who we know more readily as Paul was there and observed all that went on, Acts 7:58. After Stephen finished his discourse, the crowd viciously turned against him. Even before the man was struck with stones, we are treated to a heavenly view. Who do we see? Jesus, and he is standing, waiting for His servant to be with Him, Acts 7:54-56.

Have you ever stood on the porch and watched for an expected car to pull in? Have you waved your arms in welcome and joy when you were able to see the loved one's car afar off? A smile lighting your face? What was the Savior's face like when Stephen saw Him standing? Surely, joy radiated from the Lord's countenance. A joy that said welcome to the place I have prepared for you and a well done for the good and faithful servant, Stephen, John 14:1-2; Matthew 25:23.


In Hebrews 12:2, we are reminded that Jesus endured the cross with its shame because of the joy set before Him. Many more words than I could ever know no doubt have been and could be written about all that is meant by "the joy that was set before Him"; however, may I offer a glimpse into this deep truth? We who belong to Jesus are a part of the joy Jesus has received. He bought us back out of the kingdom of darkness and He has transferred us into His Kingdom of Light, Colossians 1:13. He has set us free from the penalty and the power of sin, Romans 6:11-14. Jesus deemed us worth the shame He had to endure, Hebrews 12:1-2. Because of His finished work, Jesus will joyfully present us to the Father, and we will have great joy on that day, Jude 1:24-25.


This quote from Robert Murray McCheyne pictures the loving smile Jesus has for us who belong to Him: “The loving and much-loved wife is satisfied with the love of her husband; his smile is her joy; she cares little for any other. So, if you have come to Christ, thy Maker is thine husband - His free love to you is all you need, and all you can care for - there is no cloud between you and God - there is no veil between you and the Father; you have access to Him who is the fountain of happiness - what have you to do any more with idols? Oh! If your heart swims in the rays of God's love, like a little mote swimming in the sunbeam, you will have no room in your heart for idols.”


Let's remember Jesus' smile. It rests upon all of us who acknowledge our need for His grace, Ephesians 2:8-9. He does not withhold His smile when we fall and fail. Instead, because we are His, He desires that we turn away from our sin and allow His grace to strengthen us so we can start again.


This week, I was going to help water the roses. I grabbed the hose and turned the nozzle to what I thought would be a low enough water pressure. I shot it toward the first rose, only to be sprayed with dirt and water. My shoes and jeans were fairly wet and dirty. I simply needed to wash off the dirt not shower down completely. That little incident reminded me of the truth that Jesus' smile rests on us even when the world gets its grime on us. What we need to do is to get cleansed by the truth of the Word, getting rid of the grime of any lie and exchanging it for the truth of what God says.

As Jesus said in John 13:1-10, the one who has been cleansed has only to wash his feet. If you will, only the dirt that has splashed over upon him now needs washing off. No complete bath is necessary, 1 John 1:9.


Lord, Thank You that You are for us, Romans 8:31. Your smile is ours because of Your grace.

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