“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” – Matthew 1:21
Babies are needy people.
That is not a very confrontational sentence – those of us who have been around babies know that they are unable to do anything for themselves. They eventually learn about what they can do and the boundaries which accompany that knowledge, but at first they do the only thing they can – cry. We would be concerned if a parent expected their crying baby to change their own diaper or feed themselves.
Babies are unable to do these things, they need their parent to help them; while a parent might not always feel like getting out of their warm bed, their love for their child motivates them to take care of their child’s needs.
We can empathize with babies – we all have experienced a feeling of complete helplessness to change or do anything about a situation. Perhaps it is a relationship with a family member that, no matter how nice you are, always seems to get worse. Maybe it is an illness which suddenly rears its ugly head. It could be a feeling which overcomes you when you read through the day’s news. Whether it is an action or habit within us or something outside of us – we all can relate to a baby’s cry for help.
This is what makes Christmas so wonderful – it is God’s answer to the hurt and pain which overwhelms us.
God sent His Son, Jesus, to earth as a baby. Imagine that; the one who created all things being unable to even hold His head up! As He grew up He experienced everything that we experience – the pain of losing a friend, hunger, betrayal, being tired, stress, family issues, worry, temptation. Those are just some of the ones which we have recorded in Scripture.
If Jesus was fully man does that mean He fell and cut himself when learning to walk? Did He have acne as a teen? Did His voice crack in front of His friends? Did He ever tell a joke and none of the disciples got it?
While we do not know the answers to those questions, we do know that Jesus did not take the easy road. He experienced the ups and downs of life before bearing the weight of the sin of the world on the cross.
Jesus went through the hurts and pains and stresses of life because He loves you.
He died for the problems we are unable to do anything about. He saw our sin and misery, our pain and hurt and He entered into them to not only save us from them but to go through them with us.
Jesus is there with you when your relative once again makes a passive comment about you. Jesus is there with you as you try to ignore the seat which is empty at the dinner table. Jesus is there after you say something you instantly regret. Jesus is there because He loves you; He goes through your hurt and pain with you.
That is why we marvel at the baby in the manger. It is not because we like looking at babies; it is because here is the God of the universe who loves us enough to not only save us from our sins but is willing to go through the entire human experience.
Ironically, we are the crying baby who God picks up and lovingly tells “It’s ok. You’re in your Father’s arms.”
Philip VanderWindt is the pastor of the Alamosa Christian Reformed Church.