What’s not to love about a baby boy born in a stable?
As long as Jesus remains that little baby it is easy to accept that He lived.
Just like Ricky Bobby in “Talladega Nights”, the world likes to picture Jesus as a tiny, helpless baby. The swaddling clothes and shepherds aren’t offensive. They don’t try your soul the way an adult Jesus does. Baby Jesus doesn’t appear to have an agenda. Baby Jesus seemingly doesn’t force us to make a choice – accept Him or not. Baby Jesus can be about gifts and love and family.
The world doesn’t want to see Jesus doing miracles, as He overcomes the religious fallacies of His day. The world doesn’t want to see Jesus angrily tearing up the temple courtyard (twice), showing righteous anger at the farce that worship had become. The world doesn’t want to read or hear Jesus proclaim that He is the only way to reconcile our souls with God.
The baby can’t do that – in their eyes.
The world likes the baby lying in the crib, because it is a fixed image that doesn’t change, or require change. It brings no baggage of truth. As an image, it is heart-warming, but does not bring a man’s soul to trial. The Christmas cards, digital images and carols of Jesus lying sweetly do not test our beliefs. Taken out of context, the baby means nothing. Jesus becomes just another in a long line of children.
Yet even a cursorily glance at Bible verses about the birth of Christ reveal the innocent babe in the stable is oh so much more than helpless.
Can we accept Jesus Christ as God in the flesh? Can we accept the cross? Can we accept the resurrection? Can we accept His ascension into Heaven, to sit down at the right hand of God? Can we accept Jesus, returning as He does in Rev. 19, as King of Kings and Lord of Lords? Can we accept the man who slays people by the power of His word? Can we accept Jesus, who comes not to judge, because the sentence has already been given? Can we accept the Jesus who says, “depart, because I never knew you”?
The world clearly doesn’t. And, sadly, many in the church have a similarly worldly view of Christ. They like the Jesus-lite that is proffered from so many pulpits in America. They want a Jesus who overlooks all sin and disobedience, and just wants a big hug from you, his special friend.
Pastor Voddie Baucham called it the syndrome of a “sissified, needy Jesus.”
The baby that began life in a manger didn’t stay a baby. He didn’t remain sweet and cuddly. Are we ready for that Jesus? All to often, we leap from the cradle to the tomb, celebrating life and life again. Yet, we stumble past all the wonder and awe and fear in between.
From the earliest pages of Genesis to the end of the Old Testament, God’s people (and the world) had an excuse – we are waiting.
When the baby arrived in a manger, with cattle lowing, and shepherds watching, that excuse ran out.
We are no longer waiting. God. Is. Here.