In our last column, we surveyed the importance of Jesus' life as signaled in Luke 2:52: "Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man." More needs be said. So we return to this theme of Jesus' life, with an eye to appreciating further Jesus' biography of personal growth and maturity, as the means toward his real redemptive sympathy for us.
Most of us can handle Jesus' growth in stature (years). After all, the birth accounts consume one out twelve months of the preaching experiences in our Western churches. Each December we sing the mysteries, celebrate the humility, and soak in the sweet sentiments of God becoming flesh.
We know the crude and compelling story from the Inn-side out. With no place for the newborn King, Jesus was laid in a feed trough. Vulnerable, dependent, and weak, he nursed at his mother's breast and lurched along on the arduous night journey toward Egypt. The earliest harsh realities faced by the Son of God born of a woman and born under the curse of the law (Gal 4:4) drip with a pathos that rightly disarms us. At the same time, the humble beginnings of baby Jesus fill us with joy inexplicable, as we relish the breath-stealing grace associated with God becoming man.
Stunning as this reality is, we must not get caught up in these particular sorrows or sentiments. The birth narratives tell of the incarnation, but the incarnation is not in itself the gospel. The good news is not only born; it must also be made. Born of the virgin mother, Jesus had to engage our lives, our world, and our suffering. He had to live, to suffer, and to work.