At this time of the year we celebrate the birth of someone who was born over 2,000 years ago. What child is this who, laid to rest on Mary’s lap, is sleeping? This, this, is Christ the king, the babe, the son of Mary.
Jesus is God’s gift to us, but how silently, how silently the wonderous gift is given. So God imparts to human hearts the blessing of his heaven. Jesus came, not wrapped in royal robes or adorned with servants who waited on his every need but came wrapped in ordinary swaddling clothes, totally dependent on just what his mother and father alone could provide for him.
Later, as an adult, there was an incident where they came with infants for him to touch, but when his disciples saw it they rebuked them and were going to send them away yet Jesus said unto his disciples, “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not for such is the kingdom of heaven.”
Why did Jesus say that the kingdom of heaven is made up of beings who are like little children?
Have you ever watched a parent care for their baby? They pick up the child with loving hands and tenderly cradle them in their arms. When the child is hungry they feed them. When the child is cold they wrap them in a warm blanket and they go to great lengths to dress them in the cutest outfits. When the child is colicky or is crying they put them on their shoulder and pat their backs to comfort them. And when they are tired and cranky, they hold them in their arms and rock them to sleep. Parents are even willing to change their child’s stinky, messy diapers to make them clean again and make them feel better.
You can always tell a woman who has been a mother because whenever they pick up someone’s child they automatically start rocking back and forth with the child. It’s an automatic mother response. God is our father and has been for a very long time, and it’s his automatic response to want to care for us. He longs to hold us in his arms and he delights in providing for all of our needs.
This is the reason why the scriptures refer to us as the “children of God” (Romans 8:16). This is the reason why we call him our Father, who lives in heaven, and this is why we belong to the household of God (Ephesians 2:9). If God is our Father and we are his children then we belong to him because we are part of his family.
Because of this, his love for us is like that which a father has for his children. This is why the scriptures tells us that “God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
But what about those who don’t believe in him, or who want God to care for their need but who aren’t willing to care about God? When that happens, it’s not that God wants to cast them away from him as it is that they don’t want to come to where he is.
Jesus taught that if we love God we will naturally want to do what he asks (John 14:15) and it is by showing our love for God in this way that we demonstrate that we really are his children. It is those who are willing honor God as their father who acknowledge that they want to be part of his family. And it is those who are willing to let God be their Father who he invites to come live with him in his kingdom.
Jesus is the perfect example of this. Even though he was God’s only begotten Son, he was not born into mortality as the regal prince of a mighty king, but he came as a small child, born to two humble parents of meager means. However, what Mary and Joseph lacked in earthly possessions, they more than made up for it in their love for God. Though they were not rich in terms of money, they were rich in righteousness and under their tender care they raised their infant son to love his father in heaven.
But even though he was the Son of God, yet he learned to be obedient to his heavenly father by the things he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8) and as a result he “increased in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:5). Thus, even he who was the greatest of all, submitted himself to God as does a little child to their parent.
When Jesus was still a child, wise men from the east came to worship him, and they offered him very expensive gifts – gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And this tradition continues even in our day. When we are invited to a birthday party, it is customary for us to bring the birthday child a gift. This is what the wise men did, and is one of the main reasons why we offer gifts to one another at Christmas time.
At this time of the year as we are invited to celebrate the birth of God’s Son, what gift can we bring him? There is one gift that he wants more than any other but that he cannot have unless we willingly offer it to him. He wants us to become born to him.
Because of the tender mercies he has for us, he wants to wrap us in the warmth of his love. He wants to feed us the bread of life. When we are troubled and our hearts are full of worry and doubts, and our soul cries out in pain, he wants to take us to his bosom and comfort us. And when we are worn down and weary from the cares and labors of this world, he wants to cradle us in his arms where we can rest peacefully, feeling safe and secure. And yes, he is even willing to take care of the stinky messes we sometimes get ourselves into and wipe away our sins so we feel clean again and feel good about ourselves. In short, he wants to care for our needs as a parent cares for their child.
Although parents still love their children, even when they don’t show love to them, yet they feel more tenderly towards those who are obedient to them and are more inclined to show them greater love, mercy, and patience, and are much more inclined to bless them. As a parent, our Father in heaven reacts the same way to those who are willing to honor him by willingly doing what he asks of them.
God sent us his Son as a gift, but it is only those who are willing to accept that gift who will receive eternal life. It does us no good to be given a gift if we refuse to accept it or fail to appreciate and care for it. Imagine if we were given a large sum of money as a gift which was meant to help us live comfortably for the rest of our life, but instead of using the money wisely, we spent it all on frivolous things and used it all up in just a couple of years? Not only would we have wasted a very precious gift that was meant to be a great blessing to us, but we would have also sadden the giver of the gift.
Christmas is a time to not only remember God’s gift to us, but to reflect on how well we are willing to receive it and use it in our life. However, it is also a time to honor God’s Son by offering our own gift to him. At this time of the year may we give Christ the greatest gift we could possibly offer him. May we become like a little child, meek, humble, patient; and willing to submit ourselves to everything God asks of us. As we celebrate the birth of the babe of Bethlehem, may we commit to becoming a babe in Christ.