When we think of Advent, all sorts of images pop up into our minds. For some of us, it might conjure up visions of glowing, multi-colored candles, crowned by wreaths made of pine branches or holly. For others of us, our minds think of 3-D countdown calendars that teach us patience is indeed a virtue, and one best developed by the daily promise of treats and goodies. And then for some, if we’re honest, Advent just wouldn’t be Advent without the seemingly endless nights spent sitting in front of our TVs—a bowl of popcorn resting on our laps; our favorite glass of something right beside us—watching too many all-too-predictable, warm-feels-stirring, slightly self- indulgent holiday movie marathons. Whatever they may be, we all have them: images we can’t help but associate with this very special time.
Jesus the Almighty
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
little lord Jesus
As Christians, our minds often conjure up one particular image around this season. One of a sweet, rosy-cheeked baby boy, wrapped in swaddling clothes (because around Christmastime, we also use words like swaddling clothes) nestled in his mother’s arms. We spend the weeks leading up to Christmas morning singing carols about silent nights and faraway mangers, brilliant stars and angels heralding in the night, all of which are meant to remind us that the “little Lord Jesus” has come.
The “little Lord Jesus,” who doesn’t cry when roused from his sleep by lowing cattle. The “little Lord Jesus” whose arrival we await with an anticipation only love and joy and wonder can inspire. And the “little Lord Jesus” who is nothing if not absolutely meek and perfectly mild.
And these images can be lovely. They connect us to happy memories of Christmases past and to the anticipation of Christmases yet to come. But the thing about the image of the “little Lord Jesus” so many of us have inherited from our parents or grandparents, church pageants, or made-for-TV movies is that it falls short of the image of Jesus we find in Scripture.
Yes, Scripture tells of a baby boy born on a night with a star and angels and magi and mangers. But we sometimes forget that those events were anything but peaceful. That little boy’s birth incited such fear in Herod, he ordered the extermination of all male children two years old and under, living in Bethlehem and the surrounding region (Matthew 2). So we can imagine that for a Jewish mother mourning the death of her little boy, the image of the “little Lord Jesus” would be hardly comforting.
The truth is, when we experience loss, disappointment, betrayal, shame, fear, the image of the “little Lord Jesus” doesn’t do much to comfort us either.
Thank God, the good news of Christmas isn’t that a baby boy was born in the “little town of Bethlehem.” The good news of Christmas, what Advent is really all about, is that on a seemingly ordinary night, the all-powerful Savior of the world was born. The writer of Hebrews calls him “the radiance of the glory of God,” who “upholds the universe by the word of his power” (1:3). This is a far cry from the little Lord Jesus of our greeting cards. This Jesus sits “at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (1:3), a place that speaks not only of His honor, but ultimately of His power and authority. This is the Jesus whose coming we await. This is the Jesus who is worthy of our trust and our allegiance. And this is the Jesus on whom all of our hope can rest secure.
When you think of Jesus, what do you imagine? Does the image of Jesus in your head match the revelation we find in Scripture? How would your Christmas be different if the image of the little Lord Jesus were replaced with the image of the Jesus seated at the right hand of God?
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