Death and a babe. You’d be right in asking what a child has to do with death, but Christmas is that missing link. It was Christmas when God fully incarnated Himself so that He could overcome once and for all the sin that forever separated Him from His dear children. It is also Christmas, the baby laid in a swaddling cloth, silently sleeping in a manger in a stable, that distorts our view of who Jesus is today.
“He grew up, you know.” I’m blaming no one here, because it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that Jesus became a man after he was born and thirty-three years later forever bridged the gap between mankind and its benevolent Creator. It is even easier to overlook Jesus now as He sits at the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:33). Moreover, Jesus is gloriously awaiting His triumphant return to earth as the conquering king He has always been.
“Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, ‘Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.’” — Revelation 1:12–18
“I like the Christmas Jesus the best.” We get hung up on thinking of Jesus as a cute, cuddly mass of skin too big for His body, but this is not Jesus. That was Jesus at one point, but look above at the description John gave. There is nothing cute and cuddly about this Jesus. Jesus is magnificent beyond words. Jesus is so glorified that John’s only response, a friend of several years, is to fall down as if he was dead. Tell me, is this the Jesus you envision when you pray at night? Sure, it’s a nice mental picture, but Jesus ain’t a baby.
Meek and humble. I think what we are to take chiefly from the nativity scene is the fact that the greatest King to have ever graced the earth with His presence came without pomp or circumstance. Instead, God had His Son born in a makeshift crib in…you got it, a stable. Jesus was born in the circumstances hardly befitting a migrant worker, let alone the King. Yet, the power in this scene is in the fact that He didn’t need anything more. Jesus came by the will of the Father to the lowest of lows and now He is exalted above all, reigning over heaven and earth. Jesus brought Himself down to the level of every man, so that He could empathize with and save people from every walk of life, not just the upper classes.
Christ today is reigning above the earth holding the keys from His conquest of death and hell itself. This could not have happened had Jesus not come down to earth from His heavenly throne and gotten firsthand experiences of people living on what we consider to be the fringe of society. To do that, He had to become a baby as this is the way life works. However, He didn’t stay this way and he lived a life that has since shown light among the darkness of the human experience. He grew up and is no longer man, but fully glorified. Now that His birth it is we are about to celebrate, let’s remember it as the perfect emphasis that the life Jesus lived on earth and the life in heaven He now lives are nothing short of perfect meekness and humility to the sovereignty of the Father. Though we have less than two weeks, that’s plenty of time to prepare our hearts not to worship a baby, but to worship the greatest King, mighty and magnificent to the point where He would subject Himself to a vagrant’s birth. Here is the intersection of death and a babe.