I belong to a facebook group where there’s been a rather spirited and lengthy discussion going on about celebrating Christmas. There are earnest people on both sides of the question. Though I personally don’t like all the trappings that obscure the true meaning of Christmas, I have no problem with celebrating His birth. Apparently, some do.
I thought the best post of them all was by a person who included a cartoon. The cartoon showed the nativity scene with Mary, Joseph and the Baby, but also showed Santa, a chair, an elf and lights and a camera. Santa has his arms outstretched, but Mary is holding Jesus away from him, and the caption, which I have altered slightly, has her saying to Santa, “Why in the world would we want a picture of Him with you?” I’d have included it here, but my low-tech mind hasn’t figured out such high-tech thingys.
Anyway, that’s not what this post is about. Perhaps some of you who have been with me for a while will find the rest of the post familiar. Though not completely copied, it is taken from a post published last year at Christmas.
In all the celebration of Christmas, even with the nativity sets included, have you ever thought about the fact that the Lord Jesus is the only historical figure who apparently never grows up. Nelson Mandela died the day before my birthday, which is how I can remember it. This year, there was a news item about his being remembered. It was very short, yet it was from the standpoint of his life, not about his birth. And yes, I know there are those who deny the Lord’s historicity. Not interested in that here.
Someone commented to me that we do celebrate Jesus’ death at Easter. That is true, for without Christmas there would have been no Easter. Still, we don’t normally associate those two events, His death at Christmas or His birth at Easter. When we observe the birthday of any other figure, George Washington, Martin Luther King, Jr., etc., we talk about what they did, not so much about their births. Only Jesus stays in the manger on Christmas day.
Why do you suppose that is?
Could it be that nobody’s threatened by a baby?
True, Herod was, but his was a unique case.
I don’t know what the situation was back in the Lord’s day, but folks today will come up to the parents of a little one and “ooh” and “aah” over how cute he or she is. They’ll smile at the little one, want to know his or her name, and then go their way. They have no real interest in the youngster, no responsibility toward him or her. He certainly poses no threat to them.
What about the Baby in Bethlehem?
He grew up.
The Lord Jesus began His ministry by commanding people to repent. He talked about sin and death and judgment and hell, where “the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched,” Mark 9:43-48. Now there weren’t ignorant pagans in some out-of-the-way place somewhere. They were people who for centuries had prided themselves on being God’s people. After all, they were the chosen nation. No other nation had ever enjoyed that privilege. And no doubt many of them did know the Lord. But the idea to some of them that they had to repent just like Gentiles who converted was just too much.
Jesus told them that unless “their righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees,” they would “by no means enter the kingdom of heaven,” Matthew 5:20. You have to understand that the Pharisees especially were looked up to as the height of virtue and righteousness. And there were good Pharisees, who lamented the “street-corner Pharisees,” as much as our Lord, who scolded them more than once for their hypocrisy. Still, the idea that something more than what they had was unthinkable. After all, they were the guardians of Israel and her heritage. No wonder they perceived Him as a threat to them and to their way of life, cf. John, 11:48.
Even though Jesus was mostly against the leaders of the nation, it doesn’t seem to have taken long for them to incite the crowds later to cry out, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” Luke 23:20; John 19:15.
The Lord Jesus as a Baby poses no threat for folks. They can ignore Him and go their way.
But as the incarnate God and Judge of all mankind – well, then He’s a threat. People don’t want to think about things like death and the judgment to follow. They don’t want to be told they’re sinners and that, apart from faith in the Lord Jesus, they stand condemned in the sight of God. They want to hear about “love”, not righteousness, about a “better place”, not that other place. They want “health”, not holiness. Riches, not redemption.
The Lord Jesus as a Baby is safe.
But He grew up.
Thank you, Lord.