Baby Jesus, asleep on the hay. No crying He makes (that’s silly, of course He cried)- He is meek, mild, and harmless. It’s a nice picture. But left on its own, it’s also one of the greatest hazards to faith. Because for many, Jesus never becomes much more than an innocent mystic or pious teacher. Nice, but harmless. A lopsided view of Advent will do that to us. Yes, we worship Jesus. But in Advent, and at too many other times- we’re usually thinking of Baby Jesus- the infant King, who doesn’t ask much of us, being a baby and all.
Yes, we need to see His humanity, for Christ the babe in a manger puts on display the servant heart of God. He stoops- beyond all measure of stooping- to become one of us. The fullness of Deity is now wrapped in humanity. God has come to walk among us, as one of us.
But Advent is more than Christ’s first incarnation as a helpless baby, because another advent, another “coming” is yet on it’s way. This one is described in these terms:
Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven.
And everyone will see him—
even those who pierced him.
And all the nations of the world
will mourn for him.
Read this description of our King:
He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance.
Read that again- exotic imagery and all. This is our King, too. Once He came as an innocent and vulnerable baby, but don’t forget that He is also the glorious King, the One with a voice like thunder and eyes ablaze. This King is also the One we wait for in Advent. He is at once the child at whose manger we kneel in perplexed wonder and the Almighty King who roars with glorious power and authority.
And in between the two stands His Cross. On its beams the suffering servant bears the weight of our sin and God’s wrath. And from it He rises in glory to await a return to this earth– as it’s unmistakable ruler. So let’s remember both advents- the whole picture- this season.