It’s My Baby

by Jeff and Jana Galt

Our eldest daughter is expecting her first child – and our first grandchild – in a few months.  At this stage each trip to the doctor results in a new sonogram proudly produced by the prospective Father at a moments’ notice.  The technology is a miracle that allows us to witness what only God had seen before – the knitting of us in our mother’s womb!

Naturally, plans are well underway.  The nursery is being outfitted; colors chosen; shopping lists created.  Our baby will be welcomed into the world with all the aucourtrements available.  There’s already talk about what schools he/she (only the doctor knows at this point) will attend.  The parents chose their house because of the elementary school just across the street, but even colleges have been discussed (UT is high on the list!).

Did you ever wonder why God sent His Son to earth as a baby?  There were plenty of alternatives, all of which would have inspired awe and wonder.  There are instances in which spiritual figures arrived on the scene full grown (consider the man who wrestled with Jacob, or the visitors who stayed with Lot).  Jesus could have arrived on the scene as a bright young Rabbi with a mysterious background.  He could have come riding a cloud or out of a puff of smoke.

Instead He chose to experience the process of formation just like all of us.  And that meant he had a Mother and a Father like us too.

After the excitement surrounding the birth, the Bible is pretty silent about Jesus’ childhood.  The impression I get is that Mary and Joseph fell into the routines of daily life and Jesus was a member of the family just like everyone else.  The passage that gives us a glimpse into the workings of this family is in Luke, Chapter 2, versus 39-47:

When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.

41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts…. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

No doubt this is an abridged version of the full exchange.  The fuller version may have gone something like this: “There you are!  Where have you been?  Your father and I have been looking all over for you!  We’ve been sick with worry that you might have been kidnapped, or worse!  Why didn’t you let us know where you were going?”

The episode must have been very emotional for Mary and Joseph.  For three long days they endured the agony of thinking their child was lost.  Then, after experiencing the joy of being reunited with their son, Jesus rebuked them by saying “Why were you searching for me?  Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”

With that exchange, Mary and Joseph were reminded that Jesus wasn’t theirs.  He belonged to a different Father.  Their task had been to protect, nurture, and nourish this young man who had been dedicated to God years earlier (see Luke 2: 22-23).  We know Mary lived to witness the full implications of that reality – up to and including watching her son hung on a cross for crimes he did not commit.

The baby in that sonogram is no less a gift from God.  It’s tempting to think that baby belongs to me.  But the story of Mary and Joseph and their first-born son reveals a deeper truth.  That precious gift is ours for only a season.  He wants it back, a present we return to the sender, with faith, hope and love.

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