Ten tiny fingers. Ten perfect, little toes. The brow of His head placed gently against Mary; His body wrapped in swaddling clothes. For the first time ever, God was warmed and fed. For the first time, He was laid down to rest.
These were the fingers, the hands that created the universe. Now clutching to Mary and Joseph’s caress were the hands that would open the scriptures to prophecies fulfilled, the hands that would beckon the sinner from the sycamore tree, the hands that would touch and heal the leper, the hands that would hold the little children as they came to Him and take Jairus’ daughter by the hand to raise her from the dead. These were the hands that would be nailed to a cross.
These tiny feet would walk on water and be washed with a prostitute’s tears before being stained with blood running from His wounds. His tiny brow would one day yield sweat like drops of blood before being spit upon and crowned with thorns. This tiny baby would grow up to be strong, would be transformed before Peter, James, and John before being stripped bare, and made to carry a cross. His body would one day breathe it’s last and give up His Spirit, be pierced by a spear, and be laid to rest in a sinner’s tomb.
The eternal Son of God, existing from all eternity past, took on flesh and, after nine months in utero, was born in a manager. The sovereign, omnipotent God of all creation now self-restrained as a helpless babe. Fully human. Fully God. Fully devoted to a holy life on mission.
His mission? To obey the Father, bringing Him honor and glory by giving Himself as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. The perfect gift. A little baby, born for a cross.
As we celebrate Christmas for the gift that it is, remember why. Remember that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
The peaceful manger scene we imagine was hardly that. Jesus’ leaving heaven to step into time and creation, a hostile world filled with sin and corruption, was the most incomprehensible, yet wonderous event ever experienced. Only His work on the cross would bring peace on earth.
Just as Jesus came in the most humble fashion, with tiny fingers and toes, as a missionary bringing an offer of peace from God, He now sends us. The baby Jesus came to die. And, after completing His work on the cross, He came to His disciples, “stood among them, and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ Having said this, He showed them His hands and His side. So the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, I also send you'” (John 20:19-21).
Go in peace, rejoicing, reflecting on the perfect, tiny gift of God: Jesus, born for the cross. Merry Christmas!