I know what you might be thinking, “how disrespectful to call Jesus your love child!” Maybe. Before you jump to judgments and conclusions though please let me explain because He’s your love child too. Remember that night?
Generally the birth of a child is greatly received. There are visits from loved ones, balloons, flowers, treats shared, gifts, free meals, time off of work, and many other perks. There is great anticipation waiting for a child to be born. Excitement is not lacking and there always seems to be plenty of encouragement and support to go around. This does not explain the birth of Jesus; this does not explain Christmas.
Joseph was hesitant to take Mary as a wife because she was already pregnant. This brought shame to their home immediately. They were traveling because their government planned a census; dust, strangers, no familiarity of home, and literally no place to actually stay while journeying led to a unique birthing experience to say the least. So how can I take these small facts and turn them into the claim that Jesus was a love child? Two reasons:
Jesus is God in the flesh. He was sent in order to restore our relationship with God. This didn’t have to happen, but God loved us so much He took it upon Himself to make us holy in order to fellowship with Him for eternity. Jesus’ birth was the beginning of this magnificent plan. Many of you have heard of agape, love. Agape, shown to us, is giving, generous and interested in others. Jon Stock writes that agape is not only love, but also love that is bound up in covenantal faithfulness. Jesus’ birth, life and death was a promise. Through Him all could have abundant life with God. It’s here for the taking. Christmas represents God’s love through the birth of a child, His Son. He’s a love child offered to you and me.
Another reason I have no problem calling Jesus a love child is because unlike a normal birth of a child Jesus’ was scandalous. Generally speaking when a love child is born there is anxiety, shame, and maybe for some family members it is mournful. This is exactly how Jesus was received. For Jews waiting for the Messiah’s deliverance His birth was celebrated, but for everyone else it was a threat and resulted in mourning.
Mary and Joseph, established before and supported in Scripture, already had shame about Mary’s pregnancy. No doubt they had anxiety as she went into labor as they were traveling and ended up having to give birth in a stable. On top of this King Herod, ruler at the time, heard about the birth of the King of the Jews and felt threatened. What’s so crazy about this is a King was not only threatened by a baby, but was forewarned and was still taken by surprise! Micah and 2 Samuel both reference Jesus’ coming as a ruler and shepherd. (Who’s threatened by a shepherd?) Herod’s response was to order all children 2-years-old and younger to be killed in hopes of wiping out the King of the Jews. The first Christmas was mournful for Herod and all those families affected by his fear.
At first glance the coming of Jesus was only ill received. Thankfully the story doesn’t end there. For Simeon the birth of Jesus meant a fulfilled life, a promise kept, a peaceful death. The Holy Spirit told Simeon he would not die until He met the deliverer. When Jesus was eight days old and brought to the temple Simeon got to hold Him. After doing so the scandal of Jesus continued with Simeon’s prophecy, ‘Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: ‘This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.’” (Lk. 2:34-35) Plenty of mixed emotions surround the birth of Jesus, the first Christmas.
Jesus’ scandalous beginning did not disappoint. His radical life continued until the moment He breathed His last. My rather short reflection on Jesus’ birth begs the question whether or not you receive the birth of Jesus poorly or consider it worth celebrating. Simeon said Jesus would cause some to fall and some to rise, that He would be spoken against and hearts would be revealed. Are you rising or falling because of Him? Are you speaking against Him? When your heart is revealed, what does it show?
The first Christmas was scandalous, no doubt, but so is every other Christmas since. Not only do we remember the unique birth of Jesus on December 25, but we also look forward to the promise kept and fulfilled on the day when He comes again. With His coming God offers you abundant life; He offers you His love. He is more than willing to be your love child. I pray you allow Him to be. I pray he does not threaten you as being King in your life. May you realize trust in Him does not bring anxiety, shame or mourning of a life given up. Embracing the scandal of Jesus brings a life fulfilled, a promise kept and a peaceful death. Merry Christmas.