When you think about it, you can’t remember one thing perfectly: the first years of your life. Others have to tell your story of birth, those first infant months of cute things, funny faces, the strong dislike for strained peas, the abundant love of apricots (just my thing), and those clothes – ugh – some were for fun (theirs, obviously) and some were for the fact that if you lived in a cold climate you were going to look like an over-stuffed Eskimo child and there was not a thing anyone could do to change that. (By the way I love the look of natives in big puffy coats, just so you know.)
This thought has become an interesting muse over the years. The muse began eons ago when old folks started pouring through their baby photos and it hit me: the little cherubs became the weathered visages of time that could not hide the fact ‘baby face’ was at the root of every elder picture. I’ve yet to see one that doesn’t reveal this phenomenon…but then again, no one who has had plastic surgery or Botox injections has crossed my path with past and present evidence.
Being in the holiday season, that got me into thinking the Virgin Birth. Some nativity sets have the Child revealed before the Christmas celebration, and some wait until the day they actually celebrate on the day for the Child to be placed in what essentially is a trough with flowing hay. History tells me the date of the Saviour’s birth is considerable weeks prior to the December date we relate to, and that was to co-opt the Pagans and other cultures with powerful and mighty figures dedicated to the 25th.
The muse goes further: Yeshua, the Christ Child – what kind of baby? Without the aide of photography (and in this case great painters), I look to other babies. We all can relate to what babies do; for instance, most have clinched hands when very young, except for when they want something, then hands unfurl to reach out to take hold. Being bearded a very long time, that has often meant the little one has a firm grip on the whiskers. Now add the visuals we typically see – a brilliant white little figure, swaddled, reaching up with open hands. Those of us who believe in this Saviour have an image to warm the heart, but for me, I have a very different image. Yehashuah was a man-child of Jewish lineage, and I adjust my brain from the white bisque tone with a mental adjustment more fitting of those of his familial ancestors.
Isn’t it strange that in all the species of the world the Human needs elders (parents, typically) far longer than any other? Our very lives are dependent on parent or guardian so as to live like the other species, but we have the need to be trained in ways other creatures typically don’t. Humans are born with interdependency built in. So was ‘the Son of the Most High God’, the one many call Jesus, the man-child. His parents were loving, teaching, training and caring for him while others were saying remarkable things about him very early on in life. Without being interdependent, parented, cared for, his experience on earth would have missed a part of the intent of existence. That intent, by the way, is far more vast than any realize. My own man-child memories make me very aware of things that were needed like protection from this or that and encouragement for building up knowledge and esteem, and the people providing such.
The Christ of the Cross, Yeshua, more than likely would have been one completely unrecognizable on the day His album of life was coming to a close. Beaten severely, beard ripped from his face, crown of thorns meticulously thrust into his skull with deliberate contempt, ‘The Saviour of Mankind’ would have had an almost impossible likeness in that moment of the child that was known. However, the Man-child was still present in the moment, knowing full well what 33 years of life were crying out in a final moment of release. A mission ending, a mightier one underway.
Why do so many have a fixation with the Child-Deliverer Jesus in a manger? In many ways it is due to the fact that a Man-child was his origin, much like all humanity. It is in the truth that he was not public with ministry and miracles until his early teens (which in that era was and still is the right of passage to manhood in Bar-Mitzvah). Our childhoods and his were common to all, experienced in the same and ordinary way. Our manhood will lead us to the paths meant for us to follow, as His did.
The fixation of a baby in a manger with open hands is one of those built-in visuals to give a sense of awe and wonder that God was made flesh. That’s not really the wonder, is it? The wonder is the Man-child born of parents with a lineage written in precision in Scripture revealed who the child is, and his mission is the time proceeded after transition to manhood. Yeshua was ‘staged’ as we all are: baby, child, teen, adult; fully Man and yet born of God. The child that reached to his earthly father’s beard and nursed from his earthly mother experienced all a man could for being Adonai Elohim (the Creator God / Master Rabbi-teacher, blessed be He). From a little place he became the authenticator of time’s very change, the completion of a place which indeed shifted and promoted faith for many in terms of Hope, Realized.
That’s a job too big for any baby. Indeed, the baby’s job of the Child of Promise was simply to be, to exist with all that was given in that time. That is the beginning of miracles.
Life begins every day the same. People have lives that have incidents, joys, accidents and sufferings. We all experience earth to the fullest, and that was absolute for the One who gave all to rightly declare His authority and nature. Yes, it was always His to those who uphold such, but it was also ‘laid down’ as Scripture boldly attests. No saviour of man could do any more or any less to connect so deeply to us all, and prove Divinity’s awe in the body of Man-child.
The parts of my life I do remember from Man-child forward are those who brought me to this discovery. It’s seen plainly on faces of the past as much as the present. It re-awakens when one comes to understand the truly unique place one Man-child took in human form to be as we, live as we, and die as we, in order to reveal the power of Yahweh as the very creator of all, eternal and forever…Immanu-el, God with us.
It is to me the greatest evidence of existence, and the great spiritual mystery of Divine interdependence the Man-child has throughout life. And it is a part of all, it is ourselves.
From this bearded wordsmith, a bit of comfort and joy to suggest:
If ever you feel lost in this world, cling to these words. From this unique Man-child Divinity came through humanity and reconciled what was lost back to Divinity. Authority penned the script and fulfilled the plot. That is reason for our celebration, not just in this season, but always…