The Innocent Christ Child: Meditation for the First Sunday of Advent

Baby in MangerWhat sort of baby was Jesus? We know what sort of man he grew to be. He was totally devoted to God and always obedient to him. He was a miracle worker and a powerful preacher. He was a master of Scripture and one who struck a note of fear in the demons. He was a friend of sinners but without sin himself. He understood that people were more important than legalism, and that women were fully human and deserving of respect.

But what was he like as a baby? Was his mind full of the secrets of the universe when he was fussing because he was hungry? When he was cuddled and comforted by his mother, was he restraining his mighty powers? When he was worshiped by the magi, did he know their inner thoughts and motivations? Was he in divine communication with the angels announcing his birth while he was wrapped up and laying in the manger?

Mercifully and wisely the Bible neither gives us these sorts of details nor speculates on the inner workings of the baby’s mind.

So, indulge my lack of wisdom for a minute and let me speculate on what this baby was like.

In the StableI think he was a joy to his mother that brought many tears. Mary was aware of the specialness of her new son and perhaps had a vague sense of what his future might be. But most of all, on that night she was a young mother for the first time. Her thoughts were not for herself or her husband, but for this treasure she had been given, a healthy baby boy. I can’t imagine that Mary acted stoically or like the Queen of the Universe on that night. She acted with the love that only mother can understand, and with the care that a baby needed.

I think that the baby Jesus seemed just like any newborn baby. His eyes didn’t focus yet. He didn’t have much hair. He couldn’t walk or talk. The pictures of him that show him as a tiny adult sitting on his mother’s lap like it is a throne are wrong. Newborns cannot hold their heads up or sit up by themselves.

And finally, I think he was totally pure and innocent. I have long thought that the experience of a newborn should be evidence against the doctrine of inherited, original sin. I know they can cry and get all red-faced, but a sleeping baby is the most peaceful thing in our experience. And even in their crying, there is an innocence and beauty that transcends the noise.

The marvel is that this purity and innocence never left Jesus. He always had the soft heart, never the hard heart. He always obeyed, never rebelled. As an adult, his strong emotions of anger came because he was aghast at injustice and lack of compassion. This to me is the wonder of Bethlehem, that a baby’s innocence never left this man. And for that, I give thanks again to God my Father. Thank you for sending your Son, born in a stable, born of a woman, born as a baby.

Aside: has anyone ever painted Madonna and Child with the baby fussing? Just wondering.

Mark Krause
Nebraska Christian College

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