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Perhaps that helps to explain why so many people get excited and find comfort in celebration of the birth of Jesus. The sight of Son of God humbly lying in Bethlehem's manger is pleasant and soul-stirring. Heavenly hosts rejoiced and sang as they announced the birth of the child (Luke 2:10-14). Satan groaned and muttered at the enormity of the challenge which faced him; never had he met one with such a determination to resist temptation and sin—the crushing of his head was about to begin. In spite of the fact that Bethlehem’s baby came to bring the gift of salvation (Luke 2:29-33), he was despised and rejected.
Many fascinated with baby Jesus --but the Baby grew up and the "grown-up" Jesus is not so fascinating, appealing or easy to behold. The mission of Jesus put Him at odds with the world even though His mission was their salvation:
Jesus was willing to fulfill his mission regardless of the personal cost--what enormous love Jesus had (John 12:23-28)! Jesus was born in Bethlehem (left heaven to take on the form of a man) that He might die in Jerusalem on a cross of shame and agony. Between these two great events, Jesus challenged the conventional religious thinking of His day and called men to a higher plane of living.
He called on men to lose self-interest (Mat. 23:8-12). He challenged men to control their thoughts and held them answerable for thoughts as well as actions (Mat. 5:27-30). He called on man to have a single minded devotion (Mat. 6:24, 33). As a result of His teaching the adult Jesus was hated. The adult Jesus is not as easy to look upon as the sweet innocent baby in Bethlehem's manger.
If we want to receive the blessing of the peace proclaimed by the heavenly hosts long years ago, we must face the adult Jesus. We must move beyond the gurgling infant held tenderly in Mary's arms to see the One Who died alone on Calvary's hill and Who calls us to a life of humble obedience (Mat. 10:37-39; 11:28-30).
What about you and I? Do we want the Baby to grow up? Will we accept the man Jesus? Will we follow His teaching? Will we take upon us His yoke?
By John A. Smith
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