The other option is the story of Jesus’ family fleeing to Eqypt. Now don’t get me wrong, it is a great story of faith and God keeping his promises to protect His Son and his earthly family. But in both stories we up and are done with the Baby Jesus. The harsh reality of life is back and we are already heading down that road towards Easter. I know this happens each year but I kind of always hope to be able to hang onto the Christmas story a bit longer.
I think we tend to get stuck in looking at Jesus in two modes. Baby Jesus and Savior Jesus. Baby Jesus- Pure, promising, innocent. With us during the cheerful, joy filled season of Christmas. Then we have this vision of Jeus in white, glorious and amazing who has died, risen and ascended. He is powerful and amazing.
But how about the other Jesus. The 2 toddler Jesus who ha to flee to a foreign country with his family with only what they could carry. Dirty, tired, hungry young Jesus.
Our young child Jesus who returns home. A Jesus who has to find new friends, Living within a secret of who he is. A Jesus who falls down and cuts open his knee. The Jesus who has the flu and lays in bed with his mother treating him. The young Jesus who is taunted and bullied by an older kid. A Jesus who spent his entire life living under the rule of a foreign land. A Jesus who lives amongst the Israelites who may have felt that God has left them after their exile into Babylon. A young man who has to deal with the pressures of working and providing sustenance for himself and his family. A man who sees people being outcast for so many reasons. A Jesus who goes to the temple in Jerusalem and sees that his entire faith is not living within the way his Father wants them to live.
A Jesus who lives in a world where a cut can kill you. People die from colds and flu. Where finding clean water and a little grain can be the difference between life and death.
This is not the Jesus we think of. We have one story of Jesus from the age of about 2 until 30. But so much must have happened during that time. So much pain, suffering, joy, excitement, death, loss, learning and caring. And this is what shaped Jesus. Helped him to understand just what it is to be human. So there is nothing that we have experienced that Jesus did not witness during his time. In fact, it was probably much harder time to have grown up than we experience. This is the messy Jesus. The real Jesus who would go onto be the Jesus we see wandering the wilderness being tempted, the Jesus who heals and purifies. The Jesus who teaches and corrects. The Jesus who travels for years without 'job', living off the generosity of others. The Jesus who one week is praised as the King and the next hung on a cross and chastised for being the King of the Jews. The Jesus who died amongst common criminals.
This is the real Jesus. The Jesus who knows who you are inside and out because he has been there. Remember that. Jesus knows. He has felt your pain, witness your shame, been the target of others anger and cruelty. He knows.
And this is the gift he gives us from the manger. He came to live so he would know.