At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.”

Matthew 11: 25, 26


During the Christmas season people can develop a mistaken understanding of Jesus. We get caught up in the images of Him as a baby and even ascribe to that infant some sort of otherworldly perfection, calm, and ease of care that are without question unrelated to what actually occurred. Jesus was a baby who did what babies do in all ways and senses. Even if that sweetness and easy-going spirit had been fully true when He was small, they did not define the totality of the man. Jesus was bold in ways that no one else has ever been bold, and He was direct with a truth that penetrated to the heart of all matters. Jesus also spoke to the reality of true need in ways that were intended to be redemptive and restorative both in the moment and for all of time to come. Jesus brought the offer of life from God, the Father, and many people refused to listen to the message and to hear its call to repentance and life anew.


In this instance, the wise and the learned people in the cities of His day had been among those who turned away from Jesus and refused to hear His plea for them to turn toward God with hearts submitted to the will of the Father. They had responded, or more accurately failed to respond, to the last of the prophets in John the Baptist, and this was much the same disinterested dismissal as they had given to all of the prophets from before. Now Jesus was confronting the same hardness of heart that had been formed up in an atmosphere of self-confidence, arrogant independence, and loyalty to this world’s order and rule. God’s message of repentance and return to righteousness was being heard and accepted by the humble, the downtrodden, and the poor of body and spirit in the countryside far more readily than it was by those in positions of strength, power, and leadership.


The stern words that the living Christ had to say to those people in His days on earth apply to us and to our times. We tend to be focused on what we believe to be best, true, and wise in the light of our own interests and desires. Yet, these understandings are too often formed up in the absence of God’s word of truth and revelation, for our thinking is frequently developed out of a combination of fear of loss of power or entitlement and out of a desire to rule over others in a manner that exploits our strength and increases their weakness. This is very much like the worldly view of successful living that Jesus was so dismayed by. Rather, when we live like the “little children” that Jesus recognized as the ones who had actually entered into the Father’s will, we submit our lives in humility and with repentant hearts to Christ seeking to love others as He does, to embrace the weak and the world-weary with caring actions, and to bring the peace and the reconciliation of Christ to the center of all forms of engagement with our world. Then we have entered into living out God’s gracious will.

And we all with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3: 18


When W. Chatterton Dix wrote his classic Christmas hymn he asked this question, “What child is this, who, laid to rest, on Mary’s lap is sleeping?” Then, in the chorus he answers his own question, “This, this is Christ the King!” This baby whose birth we celebrate at Christmas is the Christ, the one who God sent to end the separation from Him that sinful rebellion had created in a movement of the creature away from its Creator. Now, in the advent of God in the flesh on the earth, we have complete access and acceptance before the great and perfectly holy glory of God.


God established a system of acts and sacrifices that were intended to demonstrate the desire and the willingness of people to come into His presence and that worked to continually remind us of our loyalty to our Lord. Yet, that loyalty was frail and often failed to last. We are sinful beings, this is our natural state of being, and it is impossible for us to escape sin’s imprisonment without God’s intervention. This point of intervention is where our lives and the child on Mary’s lap intersect. For this humble baby and the Great King that He is do have the power and the authority to overcome any and all conditions of the body, mind, and heart that enslave people.


As we turn to Christ, He removes all that separates us from standing before God in the full revelation of our humanity and the complete appreciation of His glory. Then God works in and on us to transform what was previously lost and dead into people who are living human bearers of that same glory of heaven, which brings the light of salvation and the soothing oil of peace into the world. In Christ we are made new and by the work of Christ’s Spirit we are transformed. So, followers of Christ are called upon to, “Haste, haste to bring Him praise” and the way that we do this is by living boldly in our world as people who bring this revealed glory of God into the darkness of sin’s night of death.