Having an infant in my life for the first time in nearly 24 years, my reflections on Christmas this year are considerably different.
Now, when I think about the Creator of Heaven and earth becoming a baby, it’s far more up close and personal. When I saw my granddaughter being born, I reflect that the One whose glory is so intense that it would kill a human also came through a birth canal and cried for the first time. When I change her diaper, I realize that the All-Powerful One took on a body and could not control its functions. When she smiles at me, I wonder how teen mom Mary felt when the Messiah of the world smiled his gummy smile at her.
I think the writer of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” said it well:
“Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight”
What was it like for Jesus, whose experience from all eternity was a perfect love relationship with the Father and the Spirit, comes down to earth, is born to poor parents under a cloud of illegitimacy (he must’ve been harassed about his mother being pregnant outside of wedlock his entire life), as well as being cold, hot, hungry, thirsty, betrayed, abandoned, lonely, and, ultimately, experiencing the wrath of his Father from whom, prior to that, he had only known love?
Why would Jesus do this in the first place? Why would God, the all-powerful creator, come in the form of a baby, utterly dependent, crying when he was hungry, wet, or his tummy hurt? For only one reason: because he is a just Judge, and crimes (our crimes against him) must be paid for one way or another.
When we listen to “O Holy Night,” they’re not just nice words we’re singing:
“Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.”
Knowing we are incapable of ever paying for our crimes against him, in his deep love for us, Jesus, the son, came as a baby, learned to walk, talk, was ultimately stripped, beaten, endured a horrifically painful and humiliating death (which was nothing compared to the wrath his Father poured out on him to willingly pay the price for our crimes)—all to give us the chance to be with him in perfect love for all eternity.
This Christmas season, as you’re singing the old Christmas hymns, give serious thought to just what they mean: The one so powerful he can create a universe with his word, worshiped by angelic beings so breathtaking that when a human sees one, the recorded accounts indicate we’re tempted to fall at their feet and worship them, took on the limitations of humanity, coming in the form of a helpless baby, born among animals, that night telling only the lowest members of society—shepherds.
“Christ, by highest heav’n adored
Christ, the everlasting Lord!
Veiled in flesh, the Godhead, see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man, with men, to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing:
‘Glory to the newborn King!'”