What Child is This?
The prophet Isaiah said of him, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given us; And the government will rest on his shoulders; and his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace”.
For two millennia now, he is considered the fulfillment of these Hebrew Messianic prophecies. Muslims recognize him as a prophet. Foremost, he is considered by Christians to be God’s Son, their Lord and Savior, God’s propitiation for the sins of the world.
He was born to a teenage mother in a stable because there was no room at the inn. Wise men came from afar to worship him just before his family was forced to flee their homeland because the Governor sought to have him killed soon after he was born. He had little if any schooling, and no possessions except the clothes on his back, yet he is considered to be the wisest and richest person who ever lived.
His life and death were a paradox. He was appointed for the rise and fall of many, destined to save by violently suffering a criminal’s death. He prayed multiple times that, if possible, he would personally prefer to avoid his fate. The answer from above was no. He subsequently yielded without resistance or bitterness having been betrayed by one of his closest friends who singled him out from the crowd, for arrest, with a kiss. So, it was said of him that he was a man of grief, acquainted with sorrows.
The people who charged him with a capital offense believed they were saving their nation through the death of one man. They could not have been more right and wrong at the same time.
Nonetheless, he lived to bless those who persecuted him, using one of his last breaths on earth to pray for the forgiveness of the people who crucified him. Thus, he perfected power through meekness.
To this day, the symbol of his violent death, the cross, is a universally recognized symbol associated with mercy and grace. While some people use his name in vain every day, others invoke it as they pray for blessings. Thus, he has always been, and will always be, a rock of stumbling and offense to some, while others view him as the only everlasting hope for humanity.
Claiming to be God’s only begotten son, the way, the truth and the life, appointed to be the judge of the heavens and the earth, his life and teaching indicate a dichotomy of both mercy and judgement. For he came to us first as God’s sacrificial lamb sent to mercifully take away the sins of the world. Yet, prophecy foretells he will return as God’s lion meting out just punishment for all the unrepentant evil committed by men and spirits since time began. God has thus placed both mercy and judgement in the hands of this man we know as Jesus, whose birth we celebrate this day.
First Published in the Santa Barbara News Press.
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