The Lord Jesus Christ came to our world as a helpless babe. He was born in Bethlehem, and the angel announced to the shepherds as they watched over their flocks by night, “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
The Birth and Childhood of Christ
The Redeemer of the world might have come attended by ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands of angels; but instead of this He clothed his divinity with humanity, made Himself of no reputation, took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of sinful flesh. For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels, but He took on Him the seed of Abraham. For it became Him for whom are all things, and by whom all things consist, in bringing many sons and daughters unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through suffering. For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all one, for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren.
Jesus, the world’s Redeemer, submitted to humiliation that we might have hope. For our sake He became poor, that through his merits we might be entitled to imperishable riches. Shall not the story of Christ’s self-denial and self-sacrifice for our sakes, lead us to pour contempt on all our pride and selfishness? The Son of God could make nothing of the human family, save as He submitted to humiliation, and through suffering came in contact with suffering humanity. It was through unutterable woe that Jesus came to reach lost man where he is plunged in sin and degradation. Let us contemplate the life, nature, and purpose of the King of glory. Let us look upon the Majesty of heaven as He shrouded his glory in the form of a child, and was cradled in a manger. But though He was so lowly born, so humbly circumstanced, angels bowed in adoration before the Babe of Bethlehem, without forfeiting their place in the courts of God or marring their allegiance to the Deity.
The Babe of Bethlehem, though the King of glory, was not entrusted to wealthy parents. His was a lowly lot. When presented in the temple, his parents could not offer anything but the offering of the poor,—a pair of turtle doves or young pigeons. This offering was made in behalf of the child Jesus; yet when Simeon took Him in his arms, the Holy Spirit fell upon him, and he knew the Lord’s Anointed, and he blessed God, and said, “Lord, now lettest Thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.”
His divinity veiled in humanity, Jesus grew up as a child, and it is written of Him that “the child grew and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” At twelve years of age He accompanied his parents to Jerusalem to attend the feast, and, forgetful of their charge, they returned, not missing the child Jesus, who had tarried in the city. “But they, supposing Him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought Him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found Him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking Him.” After three days of sorrowful searching, they found Jesus in the temple, sitting among the doctors both hearing and asking them questions. “And all that heard Him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw Him, they were amazed; and his mother said unto Him, Son, why hast Thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing. And He said unto them, How is it that ye sought Me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? …And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them…. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”
The story of the birth and childhood of Jesus never loses its fragrance and interest, and it should be often repeated to the children and youth. Jesus was ever in sympathy with all phases of the life of childhood and youth. When the mothers brought their children that Jesus might place his hands upon their heads and bless them, the disciples looked with disfavor upon the tired mothers and their little ones, and sternly forbade them to come to Jesus to trouble Him with so unimportant a matter; but Jesus did not look upon them with disapprobation. His compassionate voice was heard saying, “Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” He took the children in his arms, and blessed them, and spoke words of encouragement and sympathy to the mothers, and both mothers and children returned to their homes strengthened and blessed by the divine love of the Master. They loved Jesus, and often repeated to others the story of their visit. They told how the disciples had forbidden them, but how the Lord had had compassion upon them.
Bringing Children to Christ
The story of Jesus blessing the children should encourage all mothers to seek the Lord, and bring their little ones to Him. He is as verily a personal Saviour today as He was in the days when He walked a man among men. He is as verily the helper of mothers today as He was when He gathered the children to his breast in Judea. He identifies his interest with that of suffering humanity, and the children of our hearths are as much the purchase of his blood today as were the children of long ago. The Lord will give to the praying mother the wisdom and grace she needs to instruct and interest her little ones in the precious old story of the babe born in Bethlehem, who is indeed the hope of the world.
Jesus is our Saviour, our Redeemer, our wisdom, our sanctification, our righteousness. Let mothers make it their first interest to teach their children of the great love wherewith God has loved us, that led Him to give his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. It is the first duty of parents to make the precious truths of salvation very plain and simple and attractive to their children. They should ever seek for the best way in which to lead their children to trust in Jesus as their personal Saviour, to love Him, to deny self for his sake, and to do good to those around them in his name. The first precept from their earliest years should be, Give your heart to Jesus; live to please Him. Do not live simply to amuse and gratify yourself; but live to honor Jesus, who has loved you, and given Himself for you. Were parents in earnest in thus educating their little ones, there would be a great company of children in the army of the Lord. They would then make sacrifices for Jesus’ sake, and desire to give, not only their little gifts of love, but their whole hearts to Jesus.
Making Jesus the Focus of Christmas
We should bring gifts to Jesus, as did the wise men when they found the Lord of glory. They had been studying the prophecies, and they knew that the time was fulfilled, and that Jesus had come to be the Saviour of men. Guided by a star, they journeyed to Jerusalem, and all along the way they were inquiring, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship Him.” “And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped Him; and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.”
The wise men have left us an example of what we should do. Jesus should be the object of our adoration, the recipient of our gifts. It is not man, but our Redeemer, that should be honored. To Him we should offer our praise and gifts and treasures; but instead of this, the world sets its treasures flowing in the channel of self-gratification, and to the honor of men. Christmas gifts are bestowed on our children, on our friends and relatives, and few think of what they can do to show their love and gratitude to God for his great love and compassion upon them.
In celebrating Christmas, fathers, mothers, children, and friends are diverted from the great object to which the custom is attributed. They give their whole attention to the bestowal of gifts upon one another, and their minds are turned away from the contemplation of the Source of all their blessings both spiritual and temporal. In their attention to gifts and honors bestowed upon themselves or their friends, Jesus is unhonored and forgotten. Parents should seek to teach their children to honor Jesus. They should be instructed how He came to the world to bring light, to shine amid the moral darkness of the world. They should be impressed with the fact that “God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
We are dependent upon Christ for both spiritual and temporal blessings, we should especially remember the world’s Redeemer, on those days in which others forget Him in pleasing one another, in festivity and careless mirth. We should show special honor to Him in whom our hope of eternal life is centred. Through all the year parents should be educating their children as to how they may honor Jesus in their gifts. They should instruct them that Christ came to the world to save perishing sinners, and that instead of spending money for needless ornaments, for candies and knick-knacks to gratify the taste, they should deny themselves for Christ’s sake, that they may offer to Him an expression of their love. The theme of Christ’s amazing love can be so presented to your children that the little ones will be lost in wonder and love, and their hearts will be melted at the story of Calvary. Tell the children and youth that Jesus died to save them, that He wants them to give to Him their young lives that they may be his obedient children, and be saved from ruin.
Christ will be pleased to see that the children and the youth, whom He loves, also love Him, and He will accept their gifts and offerings to be used in his cause. From the denial of self in children and youth, many little streams may flow into the treasury of the Lord, and missionaries may be sent out through their gifts to bring light to the heathen, who bow down to gods of wood and stone. Home missionaries also may be assisted, and there are poor who are suffering and needy, who may be blessed with the gifts of the children. Christ identifies his interest with that of his children. He says, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me.”
Brethren and sisters, what are you going to bring to Jesus as an offering of love? What will you render unto the Lord for all his benefits? Will you show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into his marvellous light, or will you devote your time and money to self and to pleasure seeking, as though self were the great object of attraction? O, may the coming Christmas be the best one you have ever enjoyed, because you have brought gifts to Jesus, and given yourselves and your all without reservation to Him who has given all for you.
Editorial Note: This article was adapted from The Bible Echo December 15, 1892