Pt. 3 - The Bearded Jesus
During Christmas our attention is turned towards the sweet, 8 lb. 6 oz, golden diaper, little bundle of baby God. There are lessons to learn from Infant Baby Jesus . . . Salvation is often hard to discern and at times even harder to accept. He teaches us ugly is the new beautiful. He teaches us that detours can be divine. There are lessons to be learned from a less favorite version of Jesus . . . Jesus as a teenager. He teaches us that God will drive us crazy, we can become so routined in our life that we can actually walk away from Him and not realize He is gone, and that we are supposed to take Jesus home with us!
The religious leaders of Jesus' day had difficulty recognizing the arrival of God in their midst because they couldn't accept His form! In John 5:37 Jesus addressed this shortcoming - "And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form,"
So again my question to you is "What is your favorite Jesus?" Are you willing to learn from the Jesus that doesn't fit your "favorite" box? What if rather than a baby Jesus wants to teach us lessons as the bearded Jesus?
Luke 2:52; John 1:29-34
And Jesus matured, growing up in both body and spirit, blessed by both God and people.
John 1:29-31The very next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and yelled out, "Here he is, God's Passover Lamb! He forgives the sins of the world! This is the man I've been talking about, 'the One who comes after me but is really ahead of me.' I knew nothing about who he was—only this: that my task has been to get Israel ready to recognize him as the God-Revealer. That is why I came here baptizing with water, giving you a good bath and scrubbing sins from your life so you can get a fresh start with God."
32-34John clinched his witness with this: "I watched the Spirit, like a dove flying down out of the sky, making himself at home in him. I repeat, I know nothing about him except this: The One who authorized me to baptize with water told me, 'The One on whom you see the Spirit come down and stay, this One will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' That's exactly what I saw happen, and I'm telling you, there's no question about it: This is the Son of God."
III. The Bearded Jesus Truths
A. The Bearded Jesus teaches us that growing up is not an option!
We would like to keep Jesus cute and cuddly, but Luke states it very clearly. . . Jesus grew up! As much as we would like for him to smell like baby powder and lilac Jesus grew up. He grew up and became tough, a whip swinger, a carpenter, a man's man if you will.
If you never come to grips with Jesus as anything other than the Christmas Child, then your own maturity and development as a Christian will be stunted! The baby story may be the most attractive, but you have to allow the grown up truths that Jesus' life is full of to take up root and residence in your life!
It doesn't matter if you sing the Toys R Us theme song (I don't want to grow up) with all the conviction you can muster you still have to grow up! Jesus didn't remain a baby! As cute as the manger scene seems, how freak show looking would it have been if at 33 Jesus was still wrapped in swaddling clothes trying to curl up in a cattle feed box? He didn't remain a teen! He matured. He grew! We have a mandate to grow up! Are you maturing? Are you developing? Are you a 20 year old baby? Are you a 40 year old baby?
Do you still handle disappointment by throwing a tantrum? Do you still fight for your own way? Are you still selfish? Are you still mouthy? Anti-social? Untrustworthy? Then perhaps you frozen in baby state or teen state! There should be more favor and more understanding in your life now than when you started this relationship with Christ!
If all you do is worship the baby you will remain a baby! If you only have a teenage relationship with Jesus you are stunted! It is time to grow up in your relationship with Him. Yes, the bearded Jesus' lessons are hard and the standard is difficult to live up to, but He grew up and so must you! He couldn't stay a baby and neither can you. When I was a child I spoke as a child . . . now I have to put away childish things and be a man! Too many of us are still acting and reacting like babies and it is time to grow up!
B. The Bearded Jesus teaches that we must live our lives in such a way that family members see God is us!
How many of you have cousins? I can honestly say that I have never had an experience like John had where the anointing rested so strongly on one of my cousins that it took me back and forced me to stand up and declare, "There they are . . . the anointed one!" Doesn't it seem that our family members seem to be the hardest ones to impress and convince? In fact, I believe that our family, even more than our friends or co-workers, may be the greatest litmus test of our faith!
The bearded Jesus had lived His life in such a way and under such great anointing that his own cousin was forced to face the anointing on His life! He was so full of the Spirit that John began to proclaim "This is the man!"
I think one of the lessons that Jesus teaches us as a man is that we must live at such a level of anointing that even our family members can recognize the Spirit, the anointing, the power in our life! Too many of our family members make declarations about us because they see how we live our lives . . . hypocrite, moody, angry, lazy, drama, needy . . . maybe it is time to get so full of the Spirit that when we walk in they have a come to Jesus moment and realize their own need for God! Give them a glimpse of Jesus this season! Let Him walk in with you! Has the Spirit made Himself at home in you at such a level that even family members . . . some you will probably see one time a year around Christmas . . . recognize His presence!
C. My favorite Jesus - the bearded Jesus - teaches me the greatest lesson of all - God would rather die for me than to live without me!
I have to admit as much as I love the Christmas Story and as insightful as the brief glimpse of Jesus as a teen is the Bearded Jesus is my favorite Jesus! I think it is because becoming one of us is a great and powerful story, but being willing as a 33 year old man - when most of us are starting to try to secure our position, play it safe, gather wealth, live for us He walks to the cross to lay down His life for me. To see a grown man, strong man, able man make the ultimate sacrifice well what greater love is there than a man who would lay down His life for a friend!
My favorite Jesus is the Jesus hanging on the cross as fully God and fully man because if it wasn't for God on my side I would have been lost! He teaches me that there is no pain that is too great to stop Him from coming after me! He teaches me that no price is too high too pay for me! The Bearded Jesus teaches me the depth of God's love for little ole me! That from before the foundations of the earth were ever laid He was already planning on sacrificing for me! God exchanged His greatest resource . . . His own son to gain relationship with me.
Philippians 2:5-8 - Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.
You have received the greatest Christmas gift you can receive and it wasn't the gift of a little baby . . . it is the gift of a man hanging on a cross so that you can have access to the Father!