A newborn baby is always a miracle. A number of our friends have just had babies so they’re all around us at this time. The nice thing for us is that we are in the enviable position of playing with their baby, and then, of course, giving it back. The parents don’t have that option.
Holding a tiny, vulnerable new life in your arms is a humbling experience. A baby learns something very quickly, and that’s trust. It’s entirely dependent on its mother and family to feed it all hours of the day and night, change its nappies and nurture it so it can grow and thrive into a child and adult.
One baby is one life that will one day make a difference in the world, hopefully for good. That’s every parent’s wish.
It’s a long difficult journey and this is where the miracle of the Christmas story touches every believer.
God made himself completely vulnerable by doing just the same.
The Creator of the universe took on the vulnerabilities and frailties of human flesh, as a baby himself. It’s the miracle of creator God becoming his creation. Why? Because he loves us that much.
The Christian message at its heart is really that simple. The nativity is the important beginning of this simple message, ‘God loving the world’ so much that ‘he sent his only son, so that those who believe in him may not die but have eternal life’. John 3:16.
This first Christmas event was predestined since the beginning. The old words of the prophet Isaiah saw this day coming when God’s purposes would be fulfilled in history. These words he wrote seven hundred years previous are well known;
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign; Behold the virgin shall conceive and shall bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel (God with us).” Isaiah 7:14.
The more we understand and appreciate the power of the Christmas story, the more shocking and astounding it is. That God was born in a manger, a feeding trough, surrounded by dirty, smelly animals.
We’ve made the reality sound a little too cute with our delightful nativity plays when actually it was no better than being born in a rubbish dump. This was no grand entrance by God.
The question is why. The answer is love.
His birth was surrounded by scandal. His adopted father Joseph, concerned about his reputation was all set to quietly divorce his new bride because the baby was not his child. But God had other plans. Incredibly, it was part of God’s will to take on this human shame. Why? Because God wants to rid us of our shame, for that’s what love looks like.
But from his first day on earth, this divine life was in danger. King Herod, in the final years of his tyrannic rule, had gotten wind of a newborn king from visiting astrologers on their way to find him. The thought of someone else with a claim to his throne was just too much. He ordered all the baby boys around Bethlehem to be killed.
No sooner was he born and he was forced to leave his birthplace, to become a refugee with his family fleeing to find sanctuary. That’s how much God identifies with the vulnerable. He was born into a violent world under tyranny seeking to find liberation.
Why did it have to be this way? Because of divine love, so that one day he would show us a better way, to show what it means to be the Prince of Peace.
It would be thirty years from the time of his birth before this baby, now a man would come to fully understand who he was and what he must do. That was to begin his public ministry by bringing humanity back to God. Indeed for us all to find Him and undergo our own new birth into an eternal hope.
For this is the King of Kings born to serve, to save in humility, to topple the earthly powers of the age and every age so that all the earth might acknowledge this once little baby as their Saviour King.
One little baby can change the world.
This first Christmas story inspires and always will. The English poet, John Milton in response to the incarnation wrote his famous epic poem On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity;
This is the Month, and this the happy morn
Wherein the Son of Heavn’s eternal King,
Of wedded Maid, and the Virgin Mother born,
Our great redemption from above did bring;
For so the holy sages once did sing,
That he our deadly forfeit should release,
And with his Father work us a perpetual peace.
How then should we respond, to this gift from God?
The only thing we can do, in awe of what he has done, is to respond with wonder, gratitude and worship, just as the Magi and Shepherds did who went to find the King of Kings lying in a lowly manger.
And in return, may you experience His peace, this Christmas.
Not Only Sundays – Bible Wisdom for Everyday.
© Not Only Sundays, December 2017.
Scripture quoted from the NRSV translation.
Images sourced on www.pixabay.com image under a creative commons licence CC.