Updated: Dec 27, 2022
The World Loves the Baby Jesus of Christmas but Hates Grown up Jesus!
By Richard Allen – December 26, 2022
Since this is the day after Christmas, I wanted to do a Christmas Blog reflecting on why the World loves the Christmas Jesus, that is the Baby Jesus, but doesn’t care much for the Grown-Up Jesus. It basically comes down to what each Jesus requires of us. The Baby Jesus asks nothing of us. He Himself is a free gift to all mankind. Even the secular world mostly sees Him as a symbol of giving and kindness to warm the holidays. But Grown-Up Jesus calls on us to believe some hard things, and asks us to “repent, believe, take up our cross and follow Him.” That’s not nearly as appetizing. Some have surmised that the bookends of Jesus’ brief life while He walked this earth, were the Cradle and the Cross. We need to understand that both are intertwined in God’s eternal purpose, so much so that you can’t have one without the other. To say it a better way, neither the Cradle of Bethlehem nor the Cross of Calvary make any sense apart from each other, they’re a package deal! The Cradle in Bethlehem represents the Eternal God being made fully human so He could dwell among us and die on the cross. The sacrifice He made on Calvary’s Cross could only be vicarious (having the ability to atone), if the one who died were fully God and fully human (Galatians 4:4).
I remember singing an Easter musical many years ago entitled: “From the Cradle to the Cross.” The basic premise was – Jesus was born in Bethlehem in order to die at Calvary – for which there’s no debate for believers in Christ. But for those outside the church, they may be confused or in disagreement. Why would a baby, born as the promised Messiah, have to die anyway? For many who practice Judaism – both now among the Orthodox and in Jesus’ day – they could not fathom the Messiah dying. The Messiah will come to conquer and reign. In fact, passages in both the Old and New Testaments were quite clear: “His kingdom would last forever” (Isaiah 9:7; Luke 1:33).
So why is there a disconnect? Who would promote the Cradle at the expense of the Cross? Or to say it another way: “Who likes the Baby Jesus of Christmas” and not the “Grown-Up Jesus who calls upon us to Repent and Believe – the one who died in our place at Calvary?” Enjoying the cultural Christmas and the Holiday Season without any connection to Jesus’ teaching as a Prophet, His Sacrificial Death on Good Friday as our High Priest, or His Resurrection on Easter and Ascension as Risen King, is the practice of our present age.
Let me provide you with several examples: The first example was mentioned in a sermon by Vodie Baucham a few years ago: “There is a 11.5 Million dollar 39-foot-tall Christmas Tree” located in Abu Dhabi. As pictured here, it is located in the luxurious, upscale Emirates Palace hotel – decked with Rolexes and Jewelry that pushes its value to a cool 11.5 Million dollars. What’s so ironic is that Abu Dhabi is a Muslim nation where it is a crime punishable by death for a Muslim to convert to Christianity. So whatever they think or believe about “Christ-Mass” trees must not cause an offense to them. The sad reality is that “merchandising” and “glitzy bling” are the real messages of this ornate and expensive Christmas Tree. A message with which the wealthy Royal family has no problem. And, Jesus is nowhere to be found!
My second example is taken from a cinematic comedy with Will Ferrell, called: “Talladega Nights.” The movie is a spoof on NASCAR and the hypocrisy of half-illiterate MAGA followers from the Southern Wing of the Bible Belt. Ferrell plays a fictional but very successful racecar driver named Ricky Bobby. Truth be told, Hollywood may see itself above poor illiterate stars from the Bible Belt – but in fact, they are the same shallow hypocritical people who don’t even make a pretense of faith. In the scene where I got the title for this Blog, Ricky is sitting at a table with his wife, children, father-in-law and racing partner. There we witness Ricky-Bobby saying grace in a comical effort to secure God’s blessings for an upcoming race. The scene is ”tongue-in-cheek” funny – and totally irreverent. Ricky begins the prayer, only to be semi-corrected by his wife:
“ Dear Lord Baby Jesus, or as our brothers in the South call you: ‘Hey-suz.’ We thank you so much for this bountiful harvest of Dominos, KFC, and the always delicious Taco Bell. I just want to take time to say thank you for my family: my two beautiful, beautiful, handsome, striking sons, Walker and Texas Ranger, or TR as we call him. And, of course, my red hot smokin’ wife Carley, who is a stone cold fox ..... . I also want to thank you for my best friend and teammate, Cal Naughton Jr., who’s got my back no matter what. Dear Lord Baby Jesus, we also thank you for my wife’s father Chip. We hope that you can use your Baby Jesus’ powers to heal him and his horrible leg. It smells terrible and the dogs are always botherin’ with it. Dear Tiny Infant Jesus..... .“
Ricky Bobby’s Wife:
“Hey hun, sweetie – Jesus did grow up, you don’t always have to call him baby. It’s a bit odd prayin’ to a baby….. .“
“Well, look, I like the Christmas Jesus best when I’m sayin’ grace. When you say grace, you can say it to Grown-up Jesus or Teenage Jesus, or Bearded Jesus, or whoever you want.”
Ricky Bobby’s Wife:
“You know what I want, I want you to say this prayer real good so that God will let us win tomorrow.”
“Dear Tiny Jesus, in your golden fleece diapers with your tiny, little fat balled up fists….. . Look, I like the baby version the best, do you hear me? I win the races and I get the money. OK. Dear Eight Pound, Six Ounce, Newborn Infant Jesus, don’t even know a word yet, just a little infant, so cuddly, but still omnipotent. We just thank you for all the races I’ve won and the $21.2 million dollars….. . LOVE THAT MONEY that I have accrued over this past season..... . Thank you for all your power and your grace, Dear Baby God, Amen.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYiWydDyMIE
If it weren’t so funny, we’d cry for the total lack of understanding and mockery about the real God and His Son, Jesus. It’s pretty clear that Ricky Bobby sees Jesus as a “good luck charm” to help him win races – MAKE LOTS OF MONEY, and to LIVE THE GOOD LIFE! But the debate between Ricky and his wife is sadly real. I’m convinced that the world has little or no trouble with the “Baby Jesus.” The Jesus of Christmas is non-threatening, because He makes no demands of men and women to repent of their sin, to strive to enter the “narrow gate” or take up their cross and follow Him. Who doesn’t like babies? Even the Biblical narrative of the birth of Christ in a Stable in Bethlehem has morphed into a menagerie of “talking stable animals, a girl named Jeannette Isabella – who with her two friends supposedly found the Baby Jesus lying in a manger – and even a little Drummer Boy who played his drum for the newborn Christ.” If those tall tales weren’t enough, Norway, Germany, Holland, France, England and America have developed holiday traditions with Mistletoe, Evergreen Trees and singing-drinking parties called Wassailing. It was only a matter of time before Christmas became Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman and Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer – all to replace the Biblical narrative completely for the unchurched public who want to celebrate “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!”
How ironic is it, that so many people who don’t like the Grown-Up Jesus, yet love Christmas and the Holiday Season, don’t grasp who that Babe was, born in Bethlehem’s Manger. The Baby Jesus was the “Stone of Stumbling, and a Rock of Offense” (1 Peter 2:8). As you Celebrate the Birth of Jesus at this Season of Advent, consider the words of an old priest named Simeon, whom Mary and Joseph encountered while presenting the Baby Jesus for dedication at the Temple. He saw the Baby Jesus as much more than a cute little baby; Simeon saw Jesus rightly as the “dividing line” between those who would be saved, and those who would be lost:
“Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, ‘Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.’ And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed’ ” (Luke 2:25-35).
This Jesus was born a Baby in Bethlehem’s Manager, lived a righteous life as our Prophet, Priest and King – making atonement for sin so there is now a way to be reconciled to God. This is the Jesus we place our trust in, the only one who saves. Merry Christmas to all!