On the first Sunday, we wondered what might have been Mary’s response to the angel’s invitation if she had seen the shadow of the cross lying across her path. Had she known the suffering ahead, would she have agreed to become the mother of God’s only begotten Son?
(Relight first purple candle.)
On the second Sunday—we wondered to what silence Joseph Mohr referred when he wrote the lyrics to that favorite Christmas hymn, “Silent Night.” Surely he was not speaking of the noisy stable or the bustling streets in Bethlehem the night the Messiah was born. Nor could he have been reflecting on a stillness in the country where shepherds were startled by a heavenly visitation. Perhaps his words spoke of the quietness of spirit we experience as believers in the miracle of the Savior’s birth.
(Relight the second purple candle.)
Last week, as we lit the pink candle, the candle of joy, we questioned several aspects of the nativity scene: Why did God choose a teenager, instead of a more mature candidate, through whom to bring forth the Christ Child? Why did He select a carpenter, and not a man of distinction and nobility, to be His earthly father? And why a stable instead of palace as His birthing chamber? Finally, we concluded that God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. Yet, even so, He planned and orchestrated a strange way to save the world.
Today, we continue on the “path of wonderings” by lighting the candle of love as we focus our attention on the Christ Himself. One would have thought that a deliverer would swoop onto the scene, riding a handsome steed followed by a trained and ferocious army, poised and ready to set things right. Instead of such a dramatic arrival, our Deliverer entered this world like every other human being, through the birth canal. A helpless Baby; an infant dependent on others for His every need.
In preparation for this devotion, I conducted a one-question survey of some noted theologians. “In one sentence, tell me why the Messiah had to enter this world as a baby.” Some of those surveyed struggled to condense their responses into one sentence, for if the question were to be answered thoroughly it would demand a deep, theological explanation. Basically, however, we can summarize their thoughts into two brief statements:
- The fulfillment of prophecy. Hundreds of years before the coming of the Christ Child, the prophet Isaiah foretold that the Promised One would be born of a virgin: “The Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His Name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). He came as the fulfillment of this word and many other prophetic utterances that speak of His advent.
- That He might identify with the human condition. Someone once said that in order to catch fish, you have to think like a fish, which, of course, is impossible unless you become a fish. In essence that is what Jesus did. He became one of us. I believe He enter the human arena not only to identify with us, but that we might relate to Him.
Not only did Jesus begin life on this planet as an infant, He navigated every life stage, from helpless infant to mature and independent adult. I’m not sure when He realized His true identity, but I do know He was aware of who He was at age 12 as He confounded the teachers of the law with His wisdom and understanding.
The writer to the Hebrews identified Him as the Great High Priest who was “touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). How could He have been our perfect example if He had not experienced life as we know it? He knew if we were to become like Him, He must become like us.