I have a confession to make: For the past two decades I have tampered with the words of a beloved Christmas carol. Well, to be honest, I’ve only changed two words, but those two words are significant in my mind and drive home a huge theological truth.
The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But And little Lord Jesus, no such crying He makes…
Baby Jesus crying just like any other baby who is startled by a load noise. Not a sinful type of cry that comes from frustration or anger, but simply a human baby communicating. Amazing truth:
Baby Jesus, fully God…“in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,” (Colossians 1:19)
Baby Jesus, fully human…just like us.
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death…Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:14, 17-18 ESV)
Because Jesus is fully God, it seems right to think of Him as a “perfect” baby—one who never even cried. But as Hebrews makes clear, Jesus took on full humanity. He was born and became like us. Jesus cried as a baby. He grew hungry and sleepy. He needed His diapers changed. In Jesus, God did not come to earth as some intangible spirit, but a real flesh and blood man. That was God’s plan. Jesus can sympathize with our weaknesses because He has worn frail flesh. “And little Lord Jesus, such crying He makes.” But more importantly, His humanity gave Him the means to die and destroy the one who has the power of death so that in Him what might have eternal life.
So this Christmas, when you sing this beloved Christmas carol with your children use it as a teaching moment. You don’t necessarily need to take my radical approach and change the words, but make sure that your children know and understand the true and crucial meaning of the incarnation.
Baby Jesus, fully God.
Baby Jesus, fully man.
(Image courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)