A guy calls the hospital and says, “You gotta send help! My wife’s going into labor!”
The nurse says, “Calm down. Is this her first child?”
He says, “No! This is her husband!”
Let’s face it, a baby changes everything and quickly moves us from peace to panic. But you don’t have to believe me. Check out these four quotes. They’ll prove it to you.
- “A perfect example of minority rule is a baby in the house.” — Milwaukee Journal
- “I don’t want to sleep like a baby, I want to sleep like my husband.” – Anonymous
- “Having a new baby is like suddenly getting the world’s worst roommate.” — Anne Lamott
- “If your baby is beautiful and perfect, never cries or fusses, sleeps on schedule and burps on demand, an angel all the time, you’re the grandma.” — Theresa Bloomingdale
Yes, we all agree, a baby changes everything; but I think we would also all agree that a baby can only change the household involved, and not the world. Even the birth of a great king or a dynamic leader or a powerful warrior requires that child to grow up and take that role before becoming his or her greatest self. Births may foreshadow world-changing events, but they don’t cause them. Except for one rather large exception, the birth of Jesus. His birth changed everything.
The birth of Jesus means God loves us. God leaves the glories of heaven and comes to earth for no other reason than he loves us. Just the birth of Jesus proves that God loves us. His birth changed everything.
The birth of Jesus means God is not only concerned about our sin, but is moving to save us from them. God comes to earth in the form of an infant child because our sin and its ramifications (death and evil and violence and guilt and shame and injustice and even fallen creation) have acted like a cancer to destroy God’s good creation. But God moves to save us from all of that. Just the birth of Jesus proves that God is concerned about our plight and is moving to save us from it.
The birth of Jesus means God is with us. The angel says to Joseph that Jesus’ birth fulfills the promise of Immanuel, God with us. Just the birth of Jesus proves that God is with us and has not (and will not) abandon us.
The birth of Jesus means that God is humble. Who would have ever guessed that God would take on our humanity and do so in this way, to be born to two Jewish peasants in the middle of nowhere? Jesus could have been born in a palace. That would have been a fitting place for the King of all creation to be born. Or Jesus could have been born to a family with wealth and influence. That would have been fitting for the one who holds all things in his hands. Or Jesus could have been born in a place of power and majesty. That would have been fitting for the one who is omnipotent and all glorious. But Jesus chooses to be born into poverty in a town that had long since lost its shine as the city of David. Just the birth of Jesus proves that our God is humble.
The birth of Jesus means that God identifies with us all the way down. God comes to us and takes on our humanity, not in part, but in full. The Second member of the Godhead strips off his glory and empties himself for our sake by taking on our humanity because God identifies with us. God has always been “for” humanity, but now we see how radical his stance regarding this world truly is. God identifies with us so much that he is compelled by love and grace to become one of us so that he could identify with us fully—in our struggles, our fears, our suffering, our hopes, our longings, our tears, our joys, and yes, even in our births and deaths. Just the birth of Jesus proves that God identifies with us.
The birth of Jesus means that God delights to use ordinary things. The extraordinary thing about the birth of Jesus is how extraordinarily ordinary it is. Apart from shepherds being engulfed by angelic glory, nothing about the actual birth would have raised an eyebrow (and who would believe shepherds?). There were no halos, no cherubim fluttering above the crib, no shekinah-glory-filled neon lights announcing the birth of the Messiah and no trumpets heralding the birth of a king. It was all ordinary. Even the announcement to Mary and Joseph were painfully private or, to use my word, spectacularly ordinary. It is no wonder, then, that Jesus chooses ordinary bread and ordinary wine to depict his saving work to his people. Just the birth of Jesus proves that God delights to use ordinary things.
The birth of Jesus means that God delights in relationships. Our God is not about mechanical obedience or ought-filled compliance. Our God is relational through and through. He is a God who comes to earth as a baby to be held by his mother, to be caressed by the strong hands of his father, to hear the sweet sound of his parents’ voices and to delight in the people around him. God wastes no time. Every moment is valuable. But God chooses to come to earth and, for a year-and-a-half or more, to experience the tender joy of simply being in a loving relationship of a family. Just the birth of Jesus proves that our God delights in relationships.
Augustine puts all of this in wonderful perspective:
“God so loved us that for our sake he, through whom time was made, was made in time;
older by eternity than the world itself, he became younger in age
than many of his servants in the world;
God, who made man, was made man;
he was given existence by a mother whom he brought into existence;
he was carried in hands which he formed;
he was nursed at breasts which he filled;
he cried like a baby in the manger in speechless infancy –
this Word without which human eloquence is speechless.”
See, this birth of this child changed everything; but here’s the thing. While the birth of Jesus proved all these things and more, his death and resurrection, if I can use this colloquial expression, “super-proved” them all. For in Jesus’ whole life and especially in his willingness to go to the cross and die for us, we see that God not only loved us and was with us and came to save us, but that he super-loved us, that he was absolutely with us and that he came to save us to the uttermost.
Christmas is an upside-down season, but it was always meant to be. A child was given to us to turn the world upside down so that it could be put right side up; a child was given to us so that in his birth we could have life and that in his human frailty, we could have eternal joy. And his invitation is for all of us to receive his love and to have our lives turned upside down by his grace. The last verse of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” says it all:
Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
born that we no more may die,
born to raise us from the earth,
born to give us second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King!”
May you have a wonderful, upside-down Christmas and celebrate all that Jesus has done for us in giving us the gift of God’s salvation!