Sweet baby Jesus. I’ve heard it, you’ve heard it. Yes, I’m sure Jesus was a sweet and cute little baby. Aren’t all babies? Well, I’m not really the best person to ask, mine were horrible (no not ugly, they cried a lot), but that’s a story for another time. I have often wondered what kind of baby Jesus was. Did he cry much? Did he sleep all night? Did he spit out his first taste of matzoh (yes, that was a google search)? Did Mary feel the pressure of raising the Savior of the world? These may seem silly, but we mommas do wonder them at times.
However Jesus acted as a baby, we need to remember one very important fact - that sweet little baby Jesus grew up. Too often people are so very comfortable with Christmas because they can handle Jesus in the baby stage. Who doesn’t love a baby? Throw in an awesome (miraculous) birth story to go along with it and wow! Now you are talking about something to celebrate! Baby Jesus? You bet I love him, he is SO precious.
Adult Jesus, Teacher Jesus, Crucified Jesus, Risen Jesus, Savior Jesus, King Jesus, Sovereign Jesus? Now things get a little less cute and cuddly for most.
This may be why Easter is less celebrated than Christmas. Baby Jesus does not appear to demand the authority and call for dedication as fully as adult Jesus does. A baby stays in a nice, small package that we can easily ignore and pack away with our decorations at the end of the season. For most people Jesus will be the eternal “baby in a manger”.
Ladies, never fall prey to that kind of thinking. The very same book that wrote about Jesus coming to earth as a baby, has much more to say about what he did while on this earth as an adult. You can’t take one without the other.
The grown-up Jesus of the Bible demanded attention and gave tough teachings. He declared himself God, “I and the Father are one” John 10:30. He demanded repentance, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:15. He demanded sacrifice and full devotion, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” John 16:24.
Jesus offered salvation yet also judgment, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the only Son of God.” John 3:18. Jesus was clear why he was on earth, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace but a sword.” Matthew 10:34.
Some of these words are why many seem to prefer a baby who is unable to speak; unable to confront them with their sin and wickedness. They would rather stay ignorant of their desperate need for him; ignoring the hope that that baby brings. Instead talking of Santa and the gifts he miraculously lavishes on those who “believe” this time of year.
Force your eyes to look beyond the birth of Christ and at the purpose of his life. The birth of Jesus was amazing but not because he was born in such highly unusual circumstances. It was amazing because he was God in baby flesh. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” John 1:14. “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,” Colossians 2:9. Our all-powerful Savior exchanged his glory for a time to live with foul humanity, being born in a stinky, crowded hole in a wall. Not quite the welcome we would desire for a King, but what beauty it holds for those he came for.
For those of us who know Jesus, we rejoice at Christmas. We revel in celebrating the birth of Jesus because he grew up and fulfilled his mission from his Father to redeem us from our sins. Dying in our place under the wrath of God, rising again, ascending to Heaven where he is seated at the right hand of his Father right now. This is glorious news!
We hear his voice through the Bible and delight in the words he gives. “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10. The newborn baby points us toward the new life available only through him.
That sweet baby Jesus means everything to us because in him dwelled the fullness of our Messiah. That baby was a promise fulfilled and a promise to come. When you see a manger scene with baby Jesus remember - that baby grew up. He is the one whose lips uttered, “It is finished” (John 19:30) as his work was completed.
Sweet baby Jesus not only grew up, he always was and always will be. Praise God that he came as a baby, praise God that he is a baby no longer!