Summary: While we celebrate Christmas, with nativity scenes and cute greeting cards, let’s remember this was a real baby; a real Man.
“Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”
In the coming week people all over the world will, in one way or another, each according to their personal and cultural traditions, be celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.
Many will not be. To them Christmas is a day to party, if they acknowledge it at all. I’m not talking about them today. I’m talking about those who believe that the Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us; who believe that the Father sent His Christ to redeem mankind back to Himself through death on the cross, and then raised Him bodily on the third day according to the scriptures, and that He ascended in His glorified body into Heaven with a promise to return. I’m talking about those people.
They’ll be celebrating the birth, because of all that came afterwards.
On this special day of the year the baby in the manger is the focus in most minds. We plaster the image on greeting cards, door hangers, window decorations, manger scenes made of wood or clay and set up on top of our television or fireplace mantle, or made of plastic and arranged on our front lawn; it’s just all over the place.
Church bulletins, Sunday School Christmas plays; a few years ago at my daughter’s church a couple dressed as Mary and Joseph came out to center stage with a real newborn baby while my daughter sang “Heaven’s Child”. It was effective and beautiful.
And it’s appropriate. I have no problem with it at all; except maybe the ones that put a halo over his head and over Mary’s. As a kid I never could figure out why he was wearing that flat yellow hat. But other than that, it’s all appropriate and good.
But there’s something I want to bring into sharp focus for you today, and perhaps give you some things to ponder during the course of this week and as you rise to celebrate your Christmas day.
I want to call your attention to the fact that this was a real baby.
Stating the obvious? Sure. I’ll concede to that. But I state the obvious for a perhaps not so obvious reason.
REAL BABY/REAL MAN
I think there is a tendency with any historical figure, and increasingly so the more special he or she becomes in our thinking, for us to sort of idealize that person to the point they lose substance and become more of a symbol than a person.
Daniel Boone symbolizes the free spirit of the American frontier. As time goes by, fewer and fewer people really know anything about him as a person, and if they learn anything, they learn about his exploits and his settlement of numerous towns named after him.
I mentioned the name of Daniel Boone in front of my daughters not too long ago and they said, “who?”
But if they ever study him in school, it will be information about his life, not his person that they study. The man becomes his works.
When it comes to God now, that tendency is just magnified. We teach and believe that He became a man, that He walked and talked and ate and slept and did all the physical things natural to a man; but since we know that He was also fully God, there is always a sort of almost subconscious placing of Him in the status of superman in our thinking.
But while being fully God and never less than God, He was not physically superior or different from other men in general, in His humanity.
Isaiah said, “He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.” (53:2)
As we read in our text, He took the same flesh and blood that we all have in common with one another; not to be a superman, but to go to His death for us!
Someone named Scott Sharpes borrowed this from the Wesleyan Bible Commentary
(1986 p. 221)
“Here he was:
The eternal one, caught in a moment of time.
The Omnipresence corralled in a cave manger.
The Omnipotent cradled in a helpless infant who could not even raise His head from the straw.
The Omniscience confined in a baby who would not say a word.
The Christ who created the heavens and the earth cradled in a manger in a cave stable.
For when God would draw near to a cold, cruel, sinful, suffering humanity, he placed a baby in a manger in Bethlehem. “