Well, it wasn’t a partridge in a pear tree or any of those other quasi-useless demonstrations of love, most of which seem incredibly pointless to this pragmatist – although I should check the market, maybe I could sell them and pay off some of my mortgage… If you send me Ten Lords-a-Leaping etc and so forth, I’ll put on a show, sell tickets and maybe get my nice front picket fence done!
I wonder what Mary and Joseph thought about the wise mens gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh when they got them. They were certainly out of the ordinary gifts for a perfectly ordinary family. Particularly since one of them was a funerary spice. (Matthew 2 NIV)
That brings it back for me right around to Easter. For us it’s 2 ½ or 3 ½ months away (depending on which liturgical calendar you follow), but for Jesus and the people around Him, it was 33 years.
Mary had 33 years knowing somehow that this baby was going to die. She just got told, by the most plain and obscure gift possible. A man travelled from far, far away to give a small child the gift of his funeral spice. How would that sit with a mother? Especially a mother who knew that this child was the Son of God, because of the circumstances of His conception, birth and all else.
I really do feel for Mary. She had a task and a half. All the time she looks at Jesus she knows He is the Son of God. However, there’s nothing that tells us that He looks different from any other child. Apart from His personality, He is a kid, just another baby, child, adolescent. Herod certainly didn’t have any idea, and so thought that killing all children under the age of 2 would dispose of the threat. (Matthew 2 NIV)
This fascinates me. God’s choices in this process of redemption could not be any more bizarre. For me two things in particular stand out. Firstly, that in order to do what He ultimately did, which is to restore what we broke, the intimate connection and individual relationship each Human Being can have with the God of All Things. He first put himself completely at our mercy.
I don’t know if you have noticed, but there is nothing more utterly helpless in nature than a human infant. We don’t even come covered in hair (mostly) to keep us warm. There is very little to ensure our survival except for the parent-child bond, and that can be tenuous, because it relies on hormones being secreted properly by the right glands at the right time.
You’d think, that after we stuffed it up the first time in the garden, that He’d not trust people with anything again, but here He is, trusting people with the most vulnerable thing in the universe, and then He becomes one Himself… Does He do this to give us a chance to participate in the process of our own redemption? I don’t know. It seems completely counter-intuitive somehow. How many things could have gone wrong, and a whole bunch of them might have been purely accidental.
As teenagers go, Jesus could very well have been seen as a right prat. At 13 he deliberately stays behind in the temple to argue theology with the priests, while everybody else heads home. For two days. Time Out Material There Sunshine. No TV For You! (Luke 2:41-52 NIV)
Coming up to the end of His life, having become a charismatic prophet, with people following Him around the place, it would have been a rude shock to have him not resist the arrest and trial. (Matthew 26:47-27:66 NIV) Particularly since he had not been backwards in coming forwards on other occasions. He knew when to shelve His anger, but He also did get physically violent. There was every indication that Jesus was a revolutionary, and not all peace and flowers as some people seem to think.
However, when push comes to shove, in the very moment when He should be leading an uprising; (politically and socially it makes sense, the timing was right), instead, He allows himself to be trialled on false charges and dies within 24 hours.
This is the second thing that stands out to me. That at the very height of His power, essentially He puts down the ball and stands still. Putting Himself at the mercy of humanity again.
I am overcome with awe and wonder that the God who doesn’t need anything (Jehovah) chose to give us such important roles in the execution of the Grand Plan to bring us back to Himself. This time, He trusted us not to screw it up, and we didn’t. Mary and Joseph didn’t screw up the parenting, and we proved our humanity in the trial and execution of the Son of the Living God. Which sounds really bad, but it needed to happen, and Thank God Almighty it did.
When it comes to standing before Him, none of us are immune to our humanity. I have no idea whether I would be one of the few who wept at the foot of the cross, one of the mob in Pilates’ court or one of the many who stayed at home hoping that no one would notice that I had been in the crowds listening to Him speak.
Also comforting is the knowledge that no one of us is better off standing in front of Him than anyone else. Nothing I can do will set me up any better than anything that you do. As long as we both have accepted Him, we’re both in. Nobody is any better off when it comes to accounting for ourselves. He’s the only one who gets to allocate places at the table, so there’s no point bucking for a good spot, because you’re more likely to end up down the end near the toilets if you do.
For me, Christmas is all about Easter. Christmas is all about how easily we could have screwed things up again but didn’t. It’s about absolute triumph. It’s a covert operation that was carried out in the dark and “Mission Accomplished”. God fixed what we broke, and we got to be part of the solution!
We are now part of the Restoration, what a part we get to play now!
God Bless You Very Much.