The Baby that Changed the World
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For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.—John 3:16 NIV
Jesus came as a meek and quiet, weak and helpless baby, and conformed Himself to our human ways of life. He was human. He got tired, He got hungry, He got weary. He was subject to all these things, even as we are, that He might better reach us with His Father’s love and communicate with us on the lowly level of our own human understanding.1
In the end, He suffered for us at terrific price, because of His love. He was spat upon, cursed, condemned as a criminal, and despised in death. But as He hung on the cross in disgrace and agony, dying for the sins of the very ones who were crucifying Him, He was showing love to the whole world. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”2 Jesus is the friend who loved us enough to lay down His life that we might be saved—and it all started with a tiny babe in a manger!—David Brandt Berg3
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).—Matthew 1:22–234
“God with us.” This is a wonderful fact! God the Infinite once dwelt in the frail body of a child and was tabernacled in the suffering form of a lowly man. … Observe first, the wonder of condescension contained in this fact, that God, who made all things, should assume the nature of one of His own creatures! That the Self-Existent should be united with the dependent and deprived, and the Almighty linked with the feeble and mortal! In the case before us, the Lord descended to the very depth of humiliation and entered into alliance with a nature which did not occupy the chief place in the scale of existence! It would have been great condescension for the Infinite and Incomprehensible Jehovah to have taken upon Himself the nature of some noble spiritual being, such as a seraph or a cherub. The union of the Divine with a created spirit would have been an immeasurable stoop—but for God to be one with man is far more.
Oh, the condescension of it! I leave it to the meditations of your quiet moments. Dwell on it with care. I am persuaded that no man has any idea how wonderful a stoop it was for God thus to dwell in human flesh and to be “God with us.” …
“Oh, the depths,” is all that we can say as we look on and marvel at this stoop of Divine Love.—Charles Spurgeon5
We look for the glory of the life of Jesus in His manhood’s years. Then He wrought great miracles, revealing His divine power. Then He spoke His wonderful words which have touched the world with their influence of blessing. Then He went about doing good, showing the love of God in all His common life, and on His cross. We do not turn to the infancy of Jesus for supernatural revealings. [We] are careful to say that Jesus wrought no miracles and showed no revealings of deity until He had been anointed with the Holy Spirit.
Yet in no portion of the life of Jesus Christ is there really greater glory than His birth. Nothing showed more love for the world than His condescending to be born. We should say that the heart of the gospel was the cross, but the first act of redemption was the Incarnation, when the Son of God emptied Himself of His divine attributes and entered human life in all the feebleness and helplessness of infancy. In its revealing of love and grace, the cradle of Jesus is as marvelous as His cross.—J. R. Miller6
The birth of Jesus is the sunrise of the Bible. Toward this point the aspirations of the prophets and the poems of the psalmists were directed as the heads of flowers are turned toward the dawn. From this point a new day began to flow very silently over the world—a day of faith and freedom, a day of hope and love. When we remember the high meaning that has come into human life and the clear light that has flooded softly down from the manger-cradle in Bethlehem of Judea, we do not wonder that mankind has learned to reckon history from the birthday of Jesus, and to date all events by the years before or after the nativity of Christ.
Yes, and the child, too. Nothing here of the pomp and circumstance of life, only the simplicity of the divine.
It is this simplicity which makes Christmas wonderful.
Here may we all come, suppliant. Not to a throne of human exaltation, but to a throne of divine simplicity.
Here may we worship recognizing in the simplicity of the Child the meaning of God's redeeming love.
Here may we bring our joys and our sorrows; our joys will be hallowed, and our sorrows will be lightened.
Here may we receive strength for the days to come, light for the time that shall be. And the light that shines from a humble manger is strong enough to reach to the end of our days.
Here, then, we come—the young, the old; the rich, the poor; the mighty, the servant—worshiping in the beauty of divine simplicity, marveling at its simple love.
This is the wonder of Christmas.7
Published on Anchor December 2013. Read by Irene Quiti Vera. Music taken from the Christmas Moments album. Used by permission.
1 Hebrews 4:15.
2 John 15:13 NKJV.
3 Daily Might (Aurora Production AG, 2004).
5 From http://spurgeongems.org/vols19-21/chs1270.pdf.
6 Bethlehem to Olivet (Hodder and Stoughton, 1905).
7 Streams in the Desert, Volume 2 (Zondervan, 1977).