Jesus, born of a virgin surrounded by animals in a stinky stall, laid in a manger. I am sure Mary was like most mothers with tears streaming down her face all the while smiling from ear to ear. I wonder if she inspected his hands and feet; yes, ten tiny fingers and toes, thank God. I am sure at that moment she was not thinking of anything but the moment. Enjoying the newness of it all. She probably wished her parents could be with her to see their new grandson.
It may have been later after she had nursed him and he had fallen asleep that she remembered the words of the angel and she pondered all of it. I wonder if a chill ran down her spine at what may lay ahead? Maybe she and Joseph discussed it, we may never know, but that night was special not only because Jesus made her a mother, but “The King of Kings,” came into this world, wrapped in human flesh all fresh and new, and one day he would make her new.
I find myself thinking about this tiny babe. As he grew did he know all along that he would one day hang on a cross bearing the sin and shame that did not belong to him. That he would be beaten, have his beard plucked out, and a crown of thorns on his head. See, he knew from the beginning of time that he was going to come into this world, how he would come and exactly what it would take to save mankind. But, did he know as he lay in the manger? As he grew and went to school with his friends, laughed and played, did he think about it?
Jesus was fully God and fully man. He experienced heartache, disappointment, and grief. He laughed and played, walked and talked with friends and family, ate and drank just like we do. Scripture tells us that he knows what we feel because he too has felt it. We see in John 11:35 these words, “Jesus wept.” He felt the grief of losing someone he cared about and the pain of his friends at their sadness and loss. We also read in John 2:15-16 that Jesus was angry and frustrated although without any sin. “He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables…”Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”
We see in John 4:6 that he was weary and tired. “Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well.” He also suffered rejection, John 6:66 “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” He also felt sorrow, we read in Matthew 26:38 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” So, clearly, as a man, he felt the things we feel. Therefore, he understands us, he sympathizes with us. But, the difference in us and Jesus is he experienced all those feelings, yet did not sin.
I wonder as he felt these emotions if the thought crossed his mind that mankind simply was not worth the price he was going to pay; or maybe that he did not want to die so young and miss seeing his brothers and sisters grow and have families and grandchildren and all the living he was going to miss out on? As our King lay in the manger unable to feed or clothe himself was the joy inside so much that he almost spilled the beans and told them everything, I mean he was God so he could have. Am I the only one who thinks these things?
Jesus knew when he came through time and space and was born in a barn and laid in a manger that he would grow to thirty-three years old and then he would be crucified for our sin, yet, he still came. He left the glory of heaven and his Father to walk in our shoes, experience life as we do and then lay down his life for us. Pretty amazing, isn’t it? This unmerited favor, this grace, and mercy that moved a King to come. This LOVE like no other. HIS LOVE moved him from the cradle to the cross, every heartbeat he experienced on this earth had your name written all over it. Love, Love…Love, Love…and he is still loving and forgiving us today. Showing us how to live and be. His example is one we are to follow, however, we, being sinners from birth fail daily, but his grace is sufficient for it all.
Maybe one day in heaven Jesus will sit us down and tell us all about it. He will share what was or was not on his mind, the why’s and how’s of it all. But until then we are left to marvel at this grace so amazing, this love so unselfish and complete, this King who thought we were worth dying for and this eternal life that is ours when we believe and we receive the free gift of salvation. When our name is called and we suddenly in just moments become his children, it is then that the shadow of the cradle becomes the shadow of a cross that becomes the shadow of a heart, full of love, poured out for us.
Merry Christmas to you! I pray this Christmas is filled with all the beauty that is found only in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I pray that as you look at pictures of a baby in a manger, you see the shadow of the cross and the love that brought the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to this earth to die for your sins. This truly is the greatest story ever told…and we get to live it forever!!! Unmerited favor and grace, mercy without end, forgiveness that goes on and on and on…Wow!