by Christopher Harbin

What Child Is This?
Christopher B. Harbin
Jr 31:7-14; Ps 147:12-20; Lk 8:22-25; Jn 1:10-18; Ep 1:3-14

Who is this child in the manger? Is this another baby to coddle, an historical figure to esteem, or one who makes a wholly new kind of demand on our lives? This infant in the manger is somehow above the storms of life. If we see him as he is, will that change the way we relate to him?

During his ministry, Jesus always seemed to be surrounded by crowds. It was hard to get away from the bustle, to spend time in prayer, to find rest, and to teach the disciples without interference from the groupies and miracle seekers who dogged his every step. On one occasion, Jesus led his disciples down to a boat to cross the lake for some quiet escape.

Jesus was tired. Since beginning his ministry, there had been no letup. As he lay down to rest, the disciples rested as well. Sure, they worked to keep the boat on course, but they rested in seeing this very human aspect of Jesus. This was within their expectations. People had to eat. People had to sleep. It was comforting to see Jesus falling within these established patterns of life and experience. They understood a tired Jesus. They understood a Jesus limited by the constraints of a physical body akin to their own. They were used to getting worn out after a long day. As they watched him lie down to rest, their minds also rested with the familiarity of Jesus’ need. They could understand a sleeping Jesus.

When Jesus was awake, teaching, healing, and casting out demons, they could not function on autopilot. Jesus awake was always a challenge to their preconceived ideas about life. He talked of love, but interpreted that love into action on behalf of the hated Samaritans. He forced them to rework their ideas on being worthy of God’s love. He did not allow peace to be the responsibility of those in power, but the responsibility of those desiring peace. He did not put up with the legal wrangling to g ...

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