A pregnant teenager and her brand new husband gazed at each other from across the innkeeper’s holding space for his animals. Exhaustion from an 80-mile journey across the Judean mountain range and the remnants of the stress of locating a room in Bethlehem is written all over their faces. Fear and anticipation define Mary’s eyes, the adrenaline and pain of labor not allowing for her eyelids to be heavy, although they haven’t rested well in quite some time.
The smell of sweaty donkeys and sheep hung heavily in the air, unavoidable in every gasping breath as Mary writhed in the throes of active labor. The Son of God was on his way.
The moment when all the world was changed was beheld by a precious few as a new mom and new dad gazed upon the face of God. Celebrated and hushed His newborn baby cries. Held Him in their arms. Rocked Him to sleep.
The God of the universe had chosen to dwell with His people. The sustainer of all creation willfully became like the created, carried in His mother’s womb and delivered at the appointed time. But if the rest of the story wasn’t true, then this birthday wouldn’t be one worth celebrating. There would be no miraculous. No lasting effect. No need for Christmas.
But the rest of the story was and is true. Jesus would fulfill every prophecy. He would be the fulfillment of the Law. Jesus would live the life we couldn’t live.
He’d be the sinless Adam, the better Moses, the faithful Abraham, the perfectly innocent Job, the righteous King David, the obedient Jonah. And yet, in this very moment, He laid in a manger wholly reliant upon a young mother and father who hadn’t done this parenting thing before. He took on flesh.
This is no small matter. He took on flesh. He is Immanuel, God with us. He took on flesh, therefore, He understands. Therefore, as He stands before the Father and intercedes for us today He prays precisely because not only was He the agent of creation, but He has walked it. He has felt it. He has been there, and He knows. Jesus gave up His rightful place at the right hand of the Father so that He might secure that place for us by entering the world as a tiny baby, softly crying that little newborn cry, peering up into the deep brown eyes of parents who dearly love Him and who look down on Him with forever in mind. This baby would deliver God’s people.
I doubt that Mary and Joseph understood exactly what that would mean. At least, I hope they didn’t yet know what would come of Jesus’ life just 33 years later because that would be far too much for the heart of any parent to embrace, while simultaneously holding their brand new baby close to their chest. But they knew this baby was promised, and that He had been anticipated and even celebrated for centuries. This baby, laying in a manger in a land far from His home, had come.
This moment. Take it in. Because this changes everything.
Merry Christmas! I hope you get the chance to pause in the quiet and worship this King who came as an infant long ago, whose work on the cross made way for your righteousness.