Just how threatening can a baby be?
As you drive around the streets this time of year, it is not unusual to see front yards populated by nativity scenes with a twist. Santa looking over the shepherd’s shoulders. The Magi having hitched a ride in his sled. Rudolf hunkered down between the sheep and a donkey, with all and sundry gathered around the baby.
You’d have to admit Christian Christmas icons and themes have been far more readily accepted by popular culture than Easter. And that’s not surprising since joy, peace and gift-giving are far more palatable than the cross. Because honestly, just how threatening can a baby be? Especially if that baby symbolises a gift.
Mary was the first to receive the gift of the Christ child. At around the age of fourteen, she had her life mapped out in front of her. Betrothed to a Jewish man, Mary would marry, have babies, and follow in the footsteps of the generations of Jewish women before her.
Like all gifts, this one was wrapped in the unknown, hiding definite outcomes. There were hints of possibilities and potential probabilities, but in truth, Mary had no idea what consequences would result from her choice to accept the gift. Yet, she opened her heart and made room for the baby knowing it would cause trouble, disrupt relationships, and potentially leave her fending for herself.
How could this young, dependant, “good Jewish girl” do this?
Because she loved and trusted the Gift-Giver.
So, whilst the short-term prospects were threatening, with no foreseeable way things could possibly work out, she trusted and obeyed. This allowed God to breathe into her life, turning the predictability of her preordained life on its ear, making way for the miraculous to be woven through the canvas of her life. The greatest of which was reconciliation with the Creator through the forgiveness of sins.
At the other end of the spectrum was Herod, a Jew and a king. Like Mary, and all other Israelites, Herod knew that the time was right for God’s Messiah to arrive in the form of a baby, born to a virgin, in Bethlehem.
Herod knew what to expect and what it meant. He knew Yahweh–the covenant God–was going to send a baby, a King who would redeem His people from slavery, just like he did through Moses. Yahweh was going to restore His people, just like He did through David. And, through this baby, Yahweh was going to bring His people home, just like He did through Ezra and Nehemiah. Yet Herod chose to reject the gift.
Herod’s pride, position and power were so threatened by the gift that, rather than make room for the baby, he declared war. He killed every boy child under the age of two to ensure that the Messiah had absolutely no impact on his life at all.
For Herod too, the gift was wrapped in the unknown. But because he did not know or trust the Gift-Giver, his heart was hard and full of fear.
A gift with an agenda
Like all babies, the Christ child was innocent and pure. But unlike others, His purity and innocence were realised in the truest sense. And this is what made Him such a threat; He came with an agenda; to…
- Bring a sword
- Start a fire
- Reveal the Kingdom of Heaven
- Fulfill the prophets and the law
- Bring light
- And represent and speak for the Father.
And most threateningly of all, this baby calls us to leave the predictability of the known and follow Him. To step out of our comfort-zones into the miraculous, and to make room in our lives for the Gift-Giver.
Christmas day has been celebrated, the wrapping paper binned, the feast eaten, and friends and families met. Now, in the celebration’s lull, the gifts are ours to be experienced. So too the gift of the baby.
This innocent child threatens all who encounter Him, because in Him we meet the Father. Through His Words, we hear the truth. And because of His actions, we have to make a choice.
The child who came at Christmas grew to be the One who started a revolution; the One who brought good news to the oppressed, bound up the broken hearted, set the captives free, and made a way home to the Father.
Once again Christmas comes with challenges. Do you trust the Gift-Giver? Will you make room for the baby? Will you obediently step out of your comfort-zones in order to experience the miraculous?
- How does the innocent baby threaten you?
- What challenges has this gift brought?
- How has making room for the child woven the miraculous through your life?