I was sitting here this morning thinking about Advent and Christmas. Yesterday our Minister asked the kids about outdoor lights and who all had them up. I have been hearing people talk about putting up Christmas decorations. I wonder how many have put up a manger scene, just because. They may not go to church, but they want their little ones to know what Christmas is all about.
As I was thinking about this I was thinking how sad it is that so many people love the baby Jesus, but it stops there. They may come to church on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day to hear the Christmas story and sing the wonderful songs we sing at Christmas. It makes us feel good doesn’t it? All too often after Christmas and sometime in January the Christmas decorations come down and the manger scene is put in a box and put away until next year. I am afraid that’s what they do to Jesus too.
People forget Jesus did not stay a baby. Kittens don’t stay kittens, puppies don’t stay puppies and babies grow up; so did Jesus. Like any baby from birth He was fed from His mother’s breast, He had to learn to walk and talk and He probably had to learn to feed Himself; but everyday He grew. We don’t know a lot about Him until He turns 12. We know at 12 He goes to the temple with His parents. Luke 2 39:48 tells us this, “When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him. Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom. After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” This passage tells us a little about Him. We know He grew and became strong and was filled with wisdom. He didn’t stay in a manger. He outgrew the manager.
As He grew He faced challenges just like any of us. There is scripture about how He was tempted by Satan out in the wilderness. We know He was baptized as a young man. We know the story of His first miracle at the wedding of Cana. All these stories are found in the Bible. What we forget is He grew up and lived a life of importance. It’s not what happened at birth that makes Jesus who He is; it’s what He does after His birth that is so important.
All of us remember how precious and beautiful our children are when they are born, but do we want them to stay at that age? No. Most of us can’t wait to see how they will live out their lives and what they will become. Some of us are anxious to see how they turn out, because as a child some of them can be difficult. We want to see them take their first steps, or say their first words, or whatever. We are excited about all the firsts in their lives. I bet Mary was excited about Jesus’ first miracle.
This is the same thing with Jesus. We should be excited about His birth, but then we should also be excited to see what He has become and all the things He accomplished in His life. We shouldn’t put Him back in a box after Christmas and set Him on a shelf until next year. As our babies grow we develop relationships with them. They learn to communicate with us and we communicate with them. As a baby comes into our lives we communicate through love and feedings, and holding them tight and watching out for them. As they grow so does our relationship with them. We learn to communicate with words, and feelings and presence.
That is what God wants for us. He does not want us to leave Jesus in a manger and love Him that way. He wants us to see Jesus grow up and become a man and do all those things God willed for Him. He wants us to have a different relationship with Jesus than we did when He was born. He wants us to stand back and read the scriptures and stand in awe of what all Jesus accomplished all in His life.
One of the greatest accomplishments in Jesus’ life was not being born, but dying on the cross for you and me. Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. In order for this to happen Jesus had to grow into a man; not be left in a manger. In between Jesus birth and His death are some wonderful stories about Jesus after birth; compassionate stories, love stories, stories about how to obtain peace in this crazy world and stories about His love for each of us.
Don’t leave Jesus in a manger and don’t put Him away on the shelf. Allow Him to grow, study His life, and see for yourself what the baby Jesus became and all of His accomplishments. After Christmas is all over what will you do with the Baby Jesus?
In Paul Harvey’s words, “Now for the rest of the story…”
Dear God: Remind me there is more to the story then the birth of Jesus. Remind me He grew up to be a man and accomplished those things You willed for His life. Remind me not to put Jesus back in the box and up on the shelf after Christmas, but to develop a deeper relationship with Him. Guide me as I read about His life and how to live so I may one day celebrate Christ’s birth in Heaven. Amen