EXPLORING THE WORD  



Presence for Christmas

That Baby in a Manger Grew Up!


By Laurel J. Davis
See Laurel's blog at The Reluctant First Lady



Who doesn't love presents for Christmas? Isn't there a bit of the kid in all of us, who looks forward to whatever's hiding inside wonderful, mysterious, specially wrapped packages, name-tagged just for us?

But is that really what the "holiday spirit" should be all about — presents for Christmas?

Well, let's see. Christmas is also the time when we acknowledge the birth of a special Child, a Child who brings feelings of peace, joy and love into the world. The "Nativity Scene" is a familiar image this time of year, with Joseph and Mary, the wise men, the shepherds, the farm animals and the North Star all gazing down upon the Newborn Babe.

Ah, yes, the heart-warming tradition of the precious "Baby in a manger." It’s still somewhat tolerated in our society...at least for a season. By kick-off time at the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day, it's take down, pack up and store away your Christmas decorations — including that precious Baby in a manger — unseen in a box in the closet or garage to collect a year's worth of dust.

Well, I say, forget presents for Christmas! Let's look forward to Presence for Christmastweet — a Presence who offers an infinitely better blessing than material gifts! A Presence whose peace, joy and love last longer than a season! A Presence who can be discovered and cherished in this unavoidable fact: That Baby in a manger grew up!

Jesus wasn't just born into the world. He changed the world!

He walked this earth to minister to our lost and hungry souls. He equipped us for spiritual growth, battle and victory. He willingly suffered and died an innocent Man on the Cross for our sake. He proved who He was by raising His own self — His own self! — from the dead. He ascended to the throne of God in heaven. He sent His Holy Spirit to keep us comforted, aided and guided in the truth. And He’s about to come again to gather up His Church, judge the world and establish His final, eternal kingdom.

In other words, Jesus' birth was not the end but just the beginning of all we can lay hold to about Him. That Baby in a manger not only grew up, and He was not only a Carpenter of Nazareth, but He was — and is — the Lord and Savior of the world!

Jesus is the One whom ancient men of God longed so dearly for and were divinely inspired to write about. Sure, part of what they wrote about was that Baby in a manger. Isaiah wrote, For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given. But this prophet of God didn't stop there! ...and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

And then Isaiah said this:
Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
Wow, yes, clearly that Baby grew up!

The name “Immanuel” given to the baby Jesus means “God with us.” And that’s exactly who Jesus is: God manifested in the flesh (e.g., John 1:14). And isn't God with us even now? Isn't that what we should be celebrating every Christmas? Real Presence, in whom we can experience the fullness of joy? Real Presence, who gives us not just blessings for this life but also “pleasures for evermore"?

Yes, the Real Presence of God Himself in Jesus Christ, all specially wrapped up in eternal peace, joy and love, individually name-tagged just for us and for anyone who will receive Him as “Immanuel.”

The promise to us is that the gift of Jesus Christ abides in us forever by the Holy Spirit. His presence gives us a peace, not that's pulled out of a box and dusted off once a year like annual Christmas decorations, but that fills us up and blesses us throughout the holiday season and forevermore.



Image Credit: Kim MyoungSung; "stars"; Creative Commons



TagsBiblical-Truth  | Celebrating-Holidays  | Jesus-Christ



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Published on 12-10-14