During this season we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. This is clearly the happiest time of the year for people of all faith persuasions. Despite misgivings over the time factor and the way we celebrate, it is important to recognize that nearly the whole world joins in on this celebration. We can all rejoice over the birth of Jesus as God’s expression of peace and good will to all people.
The Early Life of Jesus
The birth and life of Jesus helps us focus on a most important truth: God is a merciful forgiver. (a) [see endnotes for Scriptures] This is a wonderful truth in itself and yet there is an even deeper purpose in his life’s message. Jesus illustrated God’s desire to be our guide through this life. (b) We are all invited to know and interact with God’s presence as Jesus did during his life in this earth. (c)
When God spoke and sent His expressive word into the womb of Mary, the processes of conception took place and the formation of a baby began. (d) While conception was not a result of the actions of a man, Jesus was formed in the womb of a mother.
Following his birth, the boy, Jesus grew and developed as a child of man and as a child of God. From childhood, Jesus “kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” (e) Think about it – Jesus “grew” in wisdom and favor “with” God. The boy realized early in life that God was real and spent time communing with his heavenly Father.
His early interaction with God’s presence enabled him to clearly understand spiritual and natural issues. Consequently his perceptions and expressions conveyed a wisdom that exceeded his age. As a result of his intimate fellowship with God at the age of 12, Jesus amazed the religious elders of that day. (f) He developed naturally and spiritually as a person.
Jesus grew in favor with God and men.
The Source of Life
Paul reminded the Athene Greeks that while we are all a child of man, “we also are offspring… of God.” (g) You may say, really? Scripture says a deposit of God’s Spirit gives life to every person. (h) We call this the ‘spirit of life’. Yes, God’s spirit is in us as a source of life. (i)
We are all God’s offspring, even when we do not know or act like it. When spirit leaves the body, our function in this world ceases. Our status as offspring is not dependent on our choices but our choices contribute to our quality of life. We just need to awaken to the reality that God’s presence is here to help. More than we realize, the man Jesus was more like us than like God.
This insight probably raises the question, how much like us? Many today assume Jesus ‘knew’ everything, much like God knows everything from the beginning of time to its supposed end. This idea overlooks the fact that he grew and increased in wisdom. Jesus is recorded as praying often, seeking insight and guidance from his heavenly Father, the One who knows all. (j) Jesus even prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” (k) Jesus only knew what God revealed in the appropriate moment.
While “God cannot be tempted,” (l) Scripture tells us Jesus “was tempted in all things as we are.” (m) If Jesus was tempted, he could have sinned. Even after his anointing by the Spirit of God, he was led by the spirit into the wilderness and was tempted to act independent of God. (n) His fellowship with God provided the insight needed to cope with the issues of the day.
Yes, there are times we act as a Prodigal Son, like offspring doing our own thing. (o) When we turn to God, we receive “the right to be become children of God,” who gladly submit to be taught and disciplined by Father. (p)
In these times, we become more than offspring: “For all who are being ‘led’ by the Spirit of God, these ‘are’ sons of God.” (q) God desires that we follow the example of Jesus as responsive children and become more than wondering offspring. Jesus said; “I gave you an example that you also should do as I did.” (r)
Jesus lived as the richest example of what God created us to be; “images and likenesses” of our heavenly Father. The Hebrew words translated ‘image and likeness’ can easily be translated as ‘reflection and resemblance’. Just as a mirror reflects the image within its view, we ‘reflect’ the qualities of God we focus on. (s) And as a child resembles the character, attitude, and personality (CAP) of parents, we resemble the God we look up to and honor. The man, Jesus illustrated how a developing reflection and resemblance of God functions and matures.
More than we realize, the man Jesus was more like us than like God.
The babe we celebrate developed and demonstrated how we can live in close fellowship with God. Jesus prayed “That they… be with me ‘where I am’.” (t) We are intended to live in this world as Jesus did, as a child of man and of God. Jesus showed us the character, attitude and personality (CAP) of God and confirmed God’s desire for us when he said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (u) Hebrew linguists verify this phrase can be translated as: “I am the truthful way to live.”
The salvation God offers us includes intimate interactions with God during this life. The way of salvation was commonly referenced in the book of Acts as “The Way,” (v) our example to follow. Salvation is more than a conversion event or a future reality. We are intended to respond to God and walk in His ways, realizing His presence is with us, among us and in our midst today.
How do you and I best experience God’s peace and good will? With all Jesus taught, he brought a simplification to “the way” by saying in essence; “I repeat what I hear my Father say, and do what I sense my Father is doing.” (w) We want to see and agree with God’s direction, and follow in the way of life that Jesus illustrated. We want to be awakened to God as born from above, to hear God’s words, and daily interact with His presence.
So, what is the greater purpose of the babe we celebrate? Jesus lived, taught, and illustrated how each of us, yes absolutely everyone, can experience the same intimate fellowship with God-in-Christ. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace.” (x)
Our personal fellowship with God is the foundation for experiencing true peace–day by day. More than ever, during this season, may each of us be more attuned to our heavenly Father’s insightful guidance! With God’s help, we can live as Jesus did: a child of man and of God.
Our personal fellowship with God is the foundation for experiencing true peace–day by day.
a) 1 John 2:1-2; John 6:51; 1 Timothy 4:10; Titus 2:11; b) Romans 8:14; c) John 17:3; Jeremiah 9:24; d) John 1:1, 14; e) Luke 2:40, 52; f) Luke 2:41-47; g) Acts 17:28-29; h) Ecclesiastes 12:7; Job 32:8; 33:4; Proverbs 20:27; i) Acts 17:22-27; j) Luke 5:16; k) Matthew 26:39; l) James 1:13; m) Hebrews 4:15; n) Luke 4:1-13; o) Luke 15:1-24; p) John 1:12; q) Romans 8:14; r) John 13:15; s) 2 Corinthians 3:18, 1 Corinthians 13:12 ; t) John 17:24;12:26; 14:3-4; u) John 14:6; v) Acts 16:17; 9:2; 18:25, 26; 22:4; 24:14, 22; w) John 5:19; 12:49; 17:8 x) John 16:33