Tuesday, December 22, 2015

It Starts with a Baby--by Linden Malki

It is interesting that Christmas has become a major cultural celebration even among those who do not share the spiritual significance of the event, and may not even have historical roots in the tradition.
I think it is at least partly because babies are little and cute and non-threatening. In this time and place, we tend to be fascinated with babies as such; sometimes to the point of regretting their growing out of babyhood. This particular baby was seen more in terms of his destiny.

The first description we find is Gabriel's announcement to Mary, that "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David..." (Luke 1:32-33.)

After Jesus was born, The angels told the shepherds "Today in the City of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11)

In the Temple, when Jesus was taken for his presentation at eight days old, an old man named Simeon had been waiting for the Messiah. He told Mary that this child " is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel; destined to be a sign that is rejected--and a sword will pierce your own soul too-so the thoughts of many may be laid bare." (Luke 2:34-35). And a prophetess named Anna: when she saw him, she praised God and "spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Israel." (Luke 2:38).

Joseph also had word that this child was no ordinary baby: "you must name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21).

The most surprising prophecy was when "wise men" from the East showed up in Jerusalem, having seen a star that they believed was a prediction of the birth of a King of the Jews. When they found the house where the family was, they gave homage to the child and gave them prophetic gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

All these prophecies were beyond the family's comprehension at this time; but they were powerful enough to attract a different kind of attention. The puppet king of Judea, King Herod, hearing of the expectations associated with this child, responded by trying to kill the Him. Joseph was warned in a dream, and they fled to Egypt for safety, and stayed until after Herod's death.

People saw Jesus in many different ways during his earthly life; but the one thing they didn't see is what they expected of a Messiah--the hero on the white horse with legions of angels at his command. When God fulfilled His part of His Plan, it was totally in character: a baby, who was destined to grow up into the fulfillment of the prophecies. He came to grow up and live with people--ordinary people, who did extraordinary things after being touched and taught by the very Son of God.

We too are born as babies who depend on parents and others to help us grow into the people God designed us to be. When we are born again--spiritually--we also are not intended to remain spiritual babies, but to grow as Jesus was described: growing "in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and Man." As we enjoy this season when we remember God's great Gift of His Son, let us remember also Who He was sent here to become.

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