During the Christmas holidays we try to reach back into our childhood for good memories associated with the season—the people, the surroundings, the sights, the sounds, the tastes. These memories bring us comfort and joy as we seek to relive them. As well, Christmas movies and songs are rampant.
Our family Christmas gatherings have gone through many changes in the last 20 years. The year 1999 was the first one without my mom; 2001, the first without my wife’s mom and 2007, the first without my dad. As well, in 2017 it was the first with our new daughter-in-law; 2018, the first with our new son-in-law and in 2019, the first with our grandson. This year will be different for all of us as we deal with the adjustments that have come with COVID-19. We have an extended family gathering every second year…and this is the second year. Sadly, we will have to wait.
These adjustments represent the passing of time, the brevity of life and our own mortality. The circumstances of life change. Like never before I am so glad for the One who does not change—Jesus Christ. Do you know Him too?
Do you picture Jesus as the one in the stable?
At this time of the year we see many nativity scenes with baby Jesus resting peacefully in the stable. Who wouldn’t like baby Jesus? Very few would be repelled by a baby. An innocent baby is very disarming. The toughest of criminals have been known to smile when they come face to face with a baby.
Rick Paulas asks “What’s up with our obsession with the baby Jesus?” (vice.com/en/article/yvxkxw/why-christians-worship-a-baby-on-december-25-456). An infant Jesus is a whole lot more pleasing to look at than an emaciated hipster on a crucifix. This Christmas, roughly a third of the world’s population will gather with their families to praise the virgin birth of “baby Jesus.” In America, we have an especially acute case of baby Jesus mania. You can get a cheap looking cardboard standee from Wal-Mart or one with “real eyelashes” on eBay, while people leave $50,000 checks under baby Jesus in Nativity scenes and brew “Sweet Baby Jesus” beer. It’s gotten so crazy over the past decade that churches nationwide have to monitor their nativity displays because there’s been an increasing number of baby Jesus thefts.
Every year Santa Claus gets increasing attention and the baby in the stable gets less. I find it curious, however, that of all the parts of the Christian faith, the baby in the manger still attracts so much attention in our culture.
Do you picture Jesus as the one who is stable?
Yes, Jesus took on the form of a human—in His appearance He changed. In His essence, however, He does not change. Do you realize the claims He made for Himself?
He claimed that:
- He always existed
- He is the way, the truth and the life
- He is the only way to the Father
- He is the only door to heaven
- He is God Himself.
Hebrew 13:8 declares, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
That baby you picture in the stable is God Himself! His essential nature has not changed. He is perfectly holy, sinless, loving, merciful and just. He does not change. How He reveals Himself does change:
- In the Hebrew Bible (what we call the Old Testament) He revealed Himself through the Law and the Prophets.
- In the land of Palestine 2,000 years ago He revealed Himself through Jesus Christ—His birth, life, death and resurrection.
- Today He reveals Himself through His creation, His Word, His Holy Spirit and His people.
- There is coming a day when He will reveal Himself as the conquering King of the Universe.
Someone has expressed, “Someday I want to be in a loving and stable relationship with someone much more loving and stable than me.”
Jesus is not to us, as Christmas is to the world—here today and gone tomorrow. Knowing that Jesus Christ is here now is both troubling and comforting. Troubling to realize that He knows our every thought, hears our every word and sees our every action. Comforting to know He is protecting, guiding and helping us.
A three-year-old boy accidentally spilled his fruit punch on the floor. He decided to clean up the mess himself and dashed to the back porch to get the mop. Suddenly realizing it was dark outside, he became apprehensive about reaching out the door for the mop. His mother reminded him Jesus is everywhere—even in the dark. The boy thought for a minute. Then, putting his face to the door he said, “Jesus, if you’re out there, will you hand me the mop?”
The baby in the stable was God Himself, who grew up, taught a message unlike any other, died on the cross and rose again. The same God who rested peacefully in the stable is here now, offering you the stability of a relationship with Him. He is offering you the fullness of life that begins now and carries on through all of eternity.
Will you receive His offer? I pray that we all say yes and give thanks for the stability He offers us.