Jesus’ birth was amazing, unpretentious…and very secret. The wise men had to search. They found the Holy Infant only with the help of the star shining on His coming.
Jesus came hidden. In the midst of simple lives, He entered unknown.
Born in an obscure place: Bethlehem – small town, small importance. Born in a cave, He was made to lie in the humblest of cradles, a trough from which the flocks ate. He was welcomed by few, ignored by most, unknown by the masses, rejected by those who should have known Him. Even as an infant, He was assaulted by those in political power.
He was hidden but could not be concealed. Emmanuel’s entry shook the world while He lay helpless in infant form, so very holy that all the unholy rose in opposition.
The religious did not believe He came, though they knew the prophecies. And they never sought to discover Him. They had no questions for the Magi. The governor, drunk with power, set out to kill Him with a crazed recklessness that took the lives of innocent boys.
Foreigners believed and came. A few astonished shepherds visited. Yet…even in the stable, Jesus effected the splitting of the world and time.
One side of the split saw in Him unutterable glory, the hope of their need, the end of their despair. The other half saw Him as the demise of their power, the enemy of their ambition, a threat to their position and god-ness.
Matthew 10:34 NASB
Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
Even His hidden coming as an infant brought the sword of division, not by His “doing” – as infant He could “DO” nothing – but ever by His simple but spectacular “Being.”
This is the real story. Will we receive this Babe as He is? Controversial…yet holy. Evoking violence…but innocent.
Not by His effort or participation, but simply being God, His birth was invasive and shocking. It upended all who were aware of it. Of those few who knew, every destiny was fixed in its course simply by His arrival. The world was shaken by His presence before ever He spoke or walked or thought. He interrupted human degradation and altered the history that mankind was fond of destroying.
In the cradle, He was God…with all the human opposition to Him, placed beside the human need for Him. We have missed the aspect of His coming that was radical then and typical still. It is ever and always this:
When Jesus comes, there enters a perfect glory that is at once redemptive and destructive.
His appearance uproots your roots and shatters your gods. The Baby was God, and so there is an inevitable upheaval and…an inescapable violence. The Baby Son is anathema to the human nature in its native hostility to God. He is the Only Viable Enemy of His enemy, Hatred, and His presence can never remain hidden, because the demons know Him as God, even if humanity does not. And His real presence, even today, is known by hell…attacked with no less fury than Herod (surrogate of Satan) and his murder of the innocent, all that which is “the potential child.”
We dust-people who “prefer the darkness” are invaded at our core and splayed in our existence by His birth into our sphere. If not, His true coming is not yet real enough. Christmas is future… When we can celebrate this, the real story in all its parts, by all its shocking drama, then do we celebrate…Jesus’ birth into history and into my soul’s story.
Celebrate by remembering, by comprehending Jesus’ wonderful invasion into history with angelic hosts and glory, but don’t forget the other side…the immediate human tragedy of His rejection, the rising of evil to eliminate Him. This is full and stark remembrance: the looming shadow of the cross over the little stone cradle.
Murder claimed Him right from birth but He was indestructible, quenchless, untouchable. Transcendent even as an infant, He began His life as He would ever live it, in the posture of God’s ‘Child,’ vulnerable as ever humanity is, yet calmly resting in His Father’s hand.
His power as God, His position as Only Begotten, though a typical newborn, shook the world in spite of His wordless Being… Even in that lowly barn-cave, wearing the humble robe of common humanity, He was Very God and as such, awesome, majestic and terrible.
May we rekindle the marvel that He came and the amazement that He is God.
The Baby is God!
Copyright © 2005 Martha Kilpatrick