“Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.” John 4:6 (NKJV)
By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”
The ThreefootBuilding is the tallest building in Meridian, Mississippi – home to 39,000 residents and the nearest “city” to our house in the country. The ThreefootBuilding was finished in 1929 and is an empty building now in need of repair.But I think it’s a beautiful building, and it always makes me happy to see it. About 10 Christmases ago, the ThreefootBuilding made me very happy because Santa Claus was on top of it.
Back then, my little son, Seth (who was about 4 at the time), and I were in Meridian, visiting someone in the hospital. I heard the police were having a fundraiser at the ThreefootBuilding. Santa was camping out at the top of the building, and you could go up there and see him. As we turned the corner in front of the building, Seth and I could see the outline of a figure dressed in red and white waaaaaay up on the ledge. I said, “I think Santa is up there. Would you like to go up there and see him?” Seth nodded in agreement.
We entered the decrepit building, gave a donation of a few dollars to a man working the elevator, rode up 16 stories and stepped outside onto a ledge into the wind, high above the street below. And there on the ledge, camped out in a tent, we shook hands and spoke with Kris Kringle, the jolly old elf himself – in the flesh.
Seth didn’t say anything until we were down on street-level again. Then I heard him mutter, in an astonishment I’d never heard before. “Man. He was REAL. I thought he was made out of plastic.”
It took me a minute to understand what he was talking about. When we were on the street looking up, we could only see a red-and-white blur. It could have been a red-and-white plastic mannequin. But, when we stepped outside the tall building, we were met by a living, breathing, walking, talking, real person. There’s really no comparison between the two.
It’s not surprising that a little child was mistaken about real versus pretend because grown people make the same mistake every day. Instead of experiencing the living Christ, they mistake Him for a pale imitation. Sometimes people only think of Plastic Jesus in the snow-globe, or maybe Cardboard Jesus, who lives in a picture frame on the wall at Grandma’s house. Or Wooden Jesus, nailed to a cross in front of the sanctuary, and Ceramic Jesus – peered at by a china shepherd on the coffee table.
Now is the time to get past all that. Today’s scripture (at the top) teaches us about a real Jesus, who got thirsty and tired. In Bethlehem, we see a real baby sleeping in a feed trough. The song that says “no crying He makes” is a bunch of bologna because real babies cry.Sometimes they cry a lot.That baby will become a toddler who spills his milk, and later a teenager whose arms and legs become gangly and grow too long for His robe.He’ll work a real day job as a carpenter until he’s 30, and three years after that He will die on a cross. On the third day He’ll be raised to life and ascend in to Heaven where He now intercedes for us. Each day He speaks to us in the Gospels, and we care for Him when we show concern for “one of the least of these”. He literally indwells our human bodies through the Holy Spirit.
This Christmas, may the Lord help us look past the plastic and see Him face-to-face.Because sometimes you have to get up close to know that somebody’s real.
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad” *Sing that title to the tune of “Secret Agent Man” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and is beginning his third decade of being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi.He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 17) and Seth (age 14) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where it is snowing even as he types this—a rarity in Mississippi!). You should write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.