What is it, in fact, that confounds us when we are confronted with the Baby Jesus, God-With-Us? Does God always answer your prayers in the ways we expect? Does He come to us in ways we would prefer or imagine? Typically, no! We often have difficulty recognizing His ways and certainly are challenged in understanding His timing. In fact, sometimes I haven’t been terribly thrilled with the answers to my prayers.
At the time of Christ’s birth, the Jews had been waiting for centuries for their Messiah; under the oppression of a Roman emperor, they were groaning (yet again) for deliverance and political freedom. I would imagine that the promise of a Messiah who would rule and reign forever, with the government on his shoulders, must have sounded pretty appealing. They certainly had good reason to put faith in the promises of their prophets for the advent of the King of Kings.
Yet – no! He came as a baby, in human form, fully God yet fully man in fragile flesh. Although the newborn baby was, no doubt, endearing and precious, there is something frightening and disarming about the power of God’s almighty, earth-shaking Presence resident in that cute swaddled bundle! Suddenly, despite being drawn to the Baby in the manger, I have found myself shaking and frightened. Had Jesus first appeared to me as a warrior king, I would have applauded and cheered. Instead, He stole in quietly, completely disarming and disconcerting me, leaving me wondering (and worrying) what He actually had in mind.
Is this the devil-defeating, earth-quaking Creator of the universe? What are the implications of His intervention in my life? What does it mean to truly yield myself 100% to this Savior whom I hardly know, certainly did not immediately recognize, and yet who knows me better than I know myself? Yes, I am disconcerted and a bit fearful of Him, and I myself feel defenseless and exposed.
Maybe that is why we sometimes feel tempted to simply leave Jesus in the manger until Easter. Maybe that is why we dread confronting Who He really wants to be for us: we dread the exposure attendant to a real relationship with the awe-inspiring, all-powerful, living God. Sometimes it is hard to remember that the Holy Spirit only exposes for the purpose of healing our hearts and minds, as we are so accustomed to the enemy exposing us to accuse and condemn us, and we are already woefully familiar with our own faults and shortcomings.
Will I pick the Baby Jesus up and own Him and allow Him access to my heart? That is the question. Will He grow in my life, or will I insist He stay in the manger until time to be nailed to the cross?
Father, I thank You for the gift of Jesus Christ, Your only-begotten Son, my Savior and Redeemer. May His presence and character expand in my heart and mind and spill forth in a way that will attract others to You and Your goodness!