“You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Luke 12:40
If you read the above verse to children (or adults for that matter), often the reaction is one of fear. I remember a bumper sticker popularized in the past few decades that said “Jesus is Coming — Look Busy.” Perhaps it is our very human tendency towards shame that can cause us to dread Jesus’ return. Like Adam and Eve before us, we think about covering ourselves to make up for something we might be doing that would displease our returning Master.
And yet, in the passage cited above, the return of the Master is a joyful occurrence! Instead of shaming his servants, the Master is overjoyed at his return to them and welcomes them to recline at the table. Upon his return, the master finds his servants faithfully serving; now he is eager to serve them:
“Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them.” v.37
In his latest book, Randall Goodgame offers this reminder to children and parents alike: Jesus’ return will be a surprise; but for those who have been faithfully waiting, it will be a delightful surprise.
Jesus and the Very Big Surprise: A True Story about Jesus, His Return, and How to be Ready is a winsome picture book illustrated by Catalina Echeverri. The book is, quite literally, full of SURPRISES! Jesus has been surprising people since the very beginning, it reminds us. The incarnation was surprising: the humble circumstances of His birth, the way in which Jesus taught about God, and Jesus’ death on the cross were all surprising. Perhaps most surprising was the resurrection on the third day.
In the explanation of the parable from Luke 12, Randall makes plain the upside-down nature of God’s love. “In Jesus’ story, the master loves his servants so much that he puts on servants’ clothes, and he serves them instead! What kind of master would love like that? What kind of God would choose to be a servant?”
This book takes what might be a frightening concept — the unexpected nature of Jesus’ return — and makes plain that we as Christians may look forward to that day with eagerness! Far from the empty bumper sticker theology of “Look Busy,” this book reminds us that we might take part in the Lord’s joyful work until He comes.
A word about the illustrations: when my daughter (11) first set eyes on the book, this was her actual reaction:
The entire book is cast in a fairy tale motif; there are princes and servants, queens and castles. There are also some goofy sheep, funny birds, and cartoonishly eager servants. The book is a joy to look through.
“He knows what we need, because He IS what we need. So get ready — the Master is coming!”
In case you want another opinion on the book, here is a review from my daughter, Maddie:
The core message is the story of Jesus from when He was a baby to when He was crucified, and how though He was the son of God He humbled Himself and came to live with us. In the book, it tells the story of the servants who waited and uses that story to say that there is a lot to be done before Jesus comes back. I find the book enjoyable because it’s easy to follow the story. There’s just a little bit of humor in it because He says that Jesus was born in a stable “where the smelly animals live.”
Jesus and the Very Big Surprise: A True Story about Jesus, His Return, and How to be Ready is a winsome picture book illustrated by Catalina Echeverri. The book launches on 2/1/2020, but you can order now from Amazon or The Good Book Company .