Burk Parsons, Pastor of St. Andrew’s Chapel, recently quipped, “Satan would be pleased if everyone focused on the baby in the quaint manger scene and ignored the baby grown up and bloody on the cross.” This is true, of course. I wonder, though, if the problem isn’t that we focus too little on the cross, but rather, too little on the creche.
My wife and I are currently caring for an 8-week old baby. I often marvel how we humans have been so successful, given that we enter the world in such a helpless state. Our baby cannot hold her head up. If she’s awake her arms & legs flail about frantically as if she’s been tossed into a pool and can’t swim. Her ears work. When spoken to, sound is received and transmitted to the brain. Something happens in there. Her eyes dance in response to the sound. Her muscles flex. But her brain can’t process the sound. She doesn’t know where it came from or what it means. She is helpless. She lives at the mercy of grownups who are distracted, overworked, under-rested, and who haven’t the foggiest notion what it’s like to be in her shoes.
I look at this little girl and then I look at the nativity on the mantle. I look at Mary and Joseph, unworthy and unprepared, yet chosen to be the guardians of God himself. And then I look at the baby. God himself. God can’t hold his head up. God can’t process the sounds and sights washing over him. God is hungry; physically hungry and must cry out in discomfort waiting for a teenage girl to nurse him (don’t believe the Christmas carol claiming that baby didn’t cry!).
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45 NIV).
When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper we remember graphically what that text points to; the decimation of our Lord’s body under the weight of the burden of our sin. But perhaps if we see in the manger merely a sweet baby and a warm feeling, it’s because we aren’t aware that there too, is the giving of the life of God. The ransom, completed on a bloody cross, begins in a bloody birth.
God has such great love for you he became like you. He who created everything that ever has been created, emptied himself of majesty and infinitude. He submitted, in love, to Mary’s will, to Joseph’s will, to Pilate’s will, to his executioner’s will. He did this because it was the only way he could continue to love Mary, Joseph, Pilate, the executioner, and you & me, forever.
“Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being” (Philippians 2:1-7a NLT).
Jesus gave everything for you. This Christmas, give him your heart. Give him your allegiance. Give him your worship.
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