The Babe of Bethlehem, whose birth we celebrate, is the conundrum of history, a puzzle, a problem, a prince whose crib was a manger and whose genealogy was stained by men and women of unfit character and ill repute. As a child, He was teased by those questioning the legitimacy of His birth. As a youth He was taunted by brothers who doubted His mission. As a man He bore the scorn of those seeking His destruction. Yet the power of His presence astonished the masses, and they said of Him, “What manner of man is this?”
He was a working man, a ragged carpenter, with neither a roof above his head nor a pillow beneath it, sleeping under the stars or in borrowed beds, His robe a blanket, His moon a nightlight.
For thirty-six months, He drifted about doing good and telling stories. He never hurt a soul. He healed the sick, taught the masses, fed the hungry, walked across the seas, and preached the Good News. Wherever He went, the miraculous broke out—at weddings, at funerals, on the land and on the lake, on the mountainside and in the city streets. He became the help of the helpless and the hope of the hopeless. He turned water into wine, and with bread and fish He fed a multitude; yet He Himself was sometimes hungry, and in His death He cried in thirst.
He is mystery in every way: Obscure in birth, humble in youth, hardworking in life, flawless in character, gentle in spirit. Yet hated, rejected, beaten, and crucified—though His condemner said, “I find no fault in Him” and His executioner said, “Surely this was the Son of God.”
He was buried in a donated mausoleum. Yet His tomb, guarded by the Roman soldiers, was opened by the heavenly agents—and found empty. And for two thousand years we can say that all the angels of heaven, all the demons of hell, all the stars in the sky, and all the men of the earth have never understood the influence of this soft child in swaddling clothes who was laid in a manger with no crib for a bed—Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Conundrum of History
—Emma Snider’s Pastor, from “Gabriel’s Cry” by Rob Morgan, Christmas 2010