Meditations on the Reality of Christmas: 20. Advent equals a changing Jesus
Lk 2:40-42 the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him…. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom.
There is a danger with a series like that reflects on the wonder and reality of Christmas. It is that we only see Jesus as a little baby and get all warm and mushy about him and have nice romantic feelings that fail to develop to see the full picture.
The full picture starts with the glorious Son of God in heaven with his Father. Jesus indicated very clearly that he had come down from heaven where he had lived, full of glory before hand (see Jn 6:33,38, 17:5). John in his Gospel (Jn 1:1-3) and the writer to the Hebrews (Heb 1:2) reveal Jesus as co-Creator with His Father. That was Jesus before he came as a baby.
But then comes the human stages that we have been observing, coming as a baby born of the virgin Mary, who then grows up (see our verses above). Then about the age of thirty he started his three year ministry culminating in his death on the Cross, followed by the resurrection and then the ascension, his return to heaven where he sits with his Father, ruling in the midst of his enemies (Psa 110:1,2)
In those three years of his ministry we see a figure so different from that helpless babe. We see him as master of the wind and the waves, manufacturer of wine and bread, healer of the sick, one who raises the dead, one who fearlessly confronts the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and religious establishment and who then courageously faces his own impending execution. Oh yes, very different from the ‘meek and mild’ infant we observe in the Christmas story.
But it doesn’t end there. See him as he reveals himself to his servant John on the Isle of Patmos. “among the lamp-stands was someone “like a son of man,” dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” (Rev 1:13-18) Unquestionably the description, “I was dead and behold I am alive for ever and ever,” must apply to the ascended Jesus who stands before John in his vision as a wise elder-priest but unlike any human. This is the One who is Lord of all, head of the Church, yes, but even more than that, the One who has ultimate say over life and death.
Later John was to see him standing before the throne of God as the Lamb of God, the only one worthy to undo the scroll of end-time history. (See Rev 4). Even later he is revealed as the coming conquering king before whom all will bow (see Rev 19).
This is the same Jesus we have been considering in these reflections on the Christmas story but it is, in reality, only a tiny part of the overall picture, a wonderful and glorious part certainly, a part involving specific human individuals and they (and this is the wonder) contribute to the working out of the overall purposes of God. So, likewise, you and I do the same as we work out, live out, our lives with Him as He uses us to contribute to the working out of His overall purposes. You may read this and Christmas is either past or even long distant, but the truths remain the same. Marvel at the wonder of the plans and purpose of God, worked out in the players of the Christmas story, but remember, He is still doing it today, with you and me. Hallelujah!