Apologetics: ə-pŏl'ə-jĕt'ĭks from the Greek απоλоγία Def: The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines.

But it's Only a Child...

Written By Esthermay Bentley-Goossen on 04 December 2006

Is it possible to get too caught up in the “story” of Jesus’ birth? Do people take the baby Jesus thing too far? People seem to revel in the “tender” side of God’s nature, putting aside thoughts of sin and righteousness. We dress up children in costumes and sing angelic-sounding songs. It’s almost too much to resist. Don’t misunderstand me. This aspect of Jesus’ story is important, even vital to understanding the Messiah. (Plus, my two darling children will be in cute costumes in a few weeks.) But the biblical focus on Jesus is not on His birth. The real focus is some thirty years later, at an execution scene. There was no tender moment at that place. Instead, the air was ripe with evil. The baby of the manger was murdered.

Birth brought God’s Son into the world and gave Him a body like us. John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” Why did God choose to send a child? Why didn’t Jesus just come to earth as a fully-grown adult? In fitting with the whole of Scripture and the entire plan of Redemption (Pastor Mark’s entire Advent sermon series addresses this), the idea was that Jesus be involved in human relationships. Jesus needed to know what it’s like to be human. And he does. While on earth, Jesus was hurt. He cried. He was hungry. He was angry. He was happy. He grew. And like us, He experienced human limitations. He bled. He got hungry. He needed sleep. And it’s probably safe to assume that, just as any other precious infant, the human part of baby Jesus needed constant care. As a toddler, He needed discipline; and as a child, direction. God used those formative years to prepare Jesus for His ministry and ultimately for death on a cross.

Let’s get caught up in the baby Jesus “story” for a minute, shall we? Imagine you had been walking down a street or sitting in a coffee shop in Bethlehem that evening and overheard someone say something about a King being in town? If someone had told you, “Follow this street to the alleyway and you’ll find Him in a manger,” wouldn’t you have hurried along toward that alley? I wonder how many people got there and, with disappointment in their hearts, said, “But it’s only a child.” Scripture does tell us that people were expecting the Savior to be a warrior. They were hoping for someone who would overtake the oppressive leaders of the time and they believed God would do it the way any man would… by force. How many people do you suppose breathed sighs of despair when they saw that God had sent a child instead.

As mothers, that’s hard to think about. Our children are the world to us and we’d do anything for them Most of us have sacrificed much to care for them, discipline them, direct them and form them into adults. But the child stage is so momentary. Children are like . . . plaster! I was working with plaster a few days ago. While fresh and wet, it can be shaped into almost anything. Over time (actually about 15 minutes), the plaster hardens, and shaping is much more difficult. (Okay, impossible.) We all have a part in shaping the plaster of the children in our lives. Their little hearts and minds are so pliable. We can teach them good or evil. We can teach them selfishness or compassion. I believe God was doing the same thing with His own Son. God brought Jesus into this world as a child so He could shape Jesus into the man He wanted His son to become. “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” (Luke 2:52) Jesus needed to grow in favor with God because the human part of Him had to be shaped into the character God had planned. That reality should help us realize just how crucial it is that we use our time wisely when it comes to our children and grandchildren. If God realized the importance of shaping His own child’s “plaster,” how can we do any different with our children?

Over the next weeks, many of us will be scouring crowded stores looking for the perfect toys and clothes and gadgets and…stuff. We will envision he excitement on our children’s andgrandchildren’s faces as they open their gifts. But beyond that, lets spend some time thinking about what’s going on inside their hearts – how their “plaster” is being shaped. Let’s remember a powerful yet often overlooked verse in Psalms: Children are a gift from God…” (Psalm 127:3)

Let’s never get to that point where, as some did some two thousand years ago, we say, “But, it’s only a child." Jesus came as a tiny, precious baby, yes. But God’s plan for Him was far more remarkable. He just needed his plaster shaped.

Esthermay Bentley-Goossen
(This article originally appeared in Windows - The monthly church-news & ministry newsletter of Crane Community Chapel.)http://cranechapel.org

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