“See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.”
Everyone said he was the cutest little tyke. His face lit up the room. Grownups couldn’t help but smile at him. His parents glowed with happiness.
Then, one night, his mother found him tucked in bed holding his stuffed bunny. But he was cold. He was dead.
Someone said, “The angels must be crying.”
Maybe they were.
We don’t know enough about angels to know for certain if they do cry. We see that they express emotions. At times, they give severe warnings. At other times, they bring glad tidings of great joy. Perhaps they do cry.
After all, their Master did.
Perhaps they did shed some tears as they saw the parents sobbing, but no tears for the little one. For him, this was better than a birthday and Christmas put together. This day was heavenly.
So then, why might the angels have cried?
Could it have been for the same reason Jesus cried at times?
We think of the Savior weeping at the grave of Lazarus. It’s not unusual for people to feel sad at funerals and cemeteries. But this was an unusual situation. Jesus knew Lazarus would walk out of that tomb in a few moments. Then, joy would overflow.
Yet, his eyes filled with tears. What caused his grief?
It was seeing the dreadful consequences of sin.
This was not what the Creator had intended. He gave humans life so they could live joyfully in a happy world.
Death was not part of the plan. Death stops life on earth. Death kills joy.
It’s the sense of tragedy that wrenched the heart of the Lord of life with sadness!
Remember when Jesus wept over Jerusalem? Listen to his pain. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Luke 13:34).
His sorrow was real because Israel’s rejection of him was real. So also, his warning to those who would lead others to join in the rejection—especially warning those guiding children.
Listen to his words. “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).
Jesus is fierce in his condemnation of those who would harm children. To abuse them is despicable. To kill them—unthinkable! The degree of horror that awaits such culprits—is beyond description. The Lord God says those who reject him will end up “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48).
Angels know this. They perceive the terror that grips the hearts of those who fall into the pit of punishment prepared for the devil and his angels.
They realize, “How tragic! How unnecessary! So avoidable!”
After all, sin has already been paid for. Death has been conquered. Redemption is free.
Jesus calls out, “I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
When humans turn their back on him, when they teach children to do the same, all is lost.
When the waters of Baptism are unused, when the words of the Good Shepherd are unread, when little ones are never taught “Jesus loves me, this I know,” life is empty. Hope is lost.
The Savior who once bled for them still loves them; still looks for them; would still hug them. If only they knew! If only they would accept his invitation.
And if they don’t?
It makes us wonder if, then, their angels cry.
Prayer: Lord of all, we can sing, “Jesus, shepherd of the sheep, who your Father’s flock does keep, Safe we wake and safe we sleep, guarded still by you.” Lead countless thousands of little ones to join us in those words of blessed assurance. Amen.
Points to ponder:
- What’s wrong with waiting for a child to grow up to pick a religion?
- What warning is given when we realize that children have angels watching them?
- What comfort does this offer?
Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.