For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16
Please note that I am not a Biblical scholar by any means!
Astoria has been extremely interested in the original Christmas story this year–the whole baby Jesus thing. I’ve been regularly taking her to our local Unitarian Universalist church for about two years now, but Jesus is rarely mentioned. It’s more about respecting other people and the earth. But I want Astoria to have an understanding of world religions, including Christianity, especially since about 30% of the world identifies as Christian.
What a confusing story. God impregnated a virgin with His son in order for that baby to grow up, do good deeds, and eventually be put to death on a cross in order for all sinners to go to heaven. Lots of heavy stuff–really too much for a 5 year old. I’ve sort of boiled it down to: God gave Mary a baby named Jesus and when it was time for the baby to come out, Mary and Joseph went to a hotel but all the hotel rooms were full so Mary had her baby in the stable. Then the angels sang and the shepherds and wisemen came to visit the baby and they gave him presents (poor Mary, frankincense and myrrh? She probably could have used a good piece of baby-wearing cloth). Then since the topic of Easter came up…Jesus grew up and was very kind to everybody but some people didn’t like him so they killed him but then God made him alive again in heaven.” (Uh, confusing much? Especially after having to explain about Corva dying and not ever coming home to live with our family). But ultimately, Jesus died because everyone ‘sins’ (then explaining sin: everyone makes bad choices sometimes).
But I digress.
Why a baby? I mean, He’s God. He could have saved all sinners in any sort of way. He had made adults before–why send an innocent baby only to have him sacrificed as an adult?
I imagine Joseph and Mary–ready to deliver, weary and hungry from their travels. Likely frustrated at being turned away at the inn (I would be). Only to deliver a baby in a dirty stable among the animals. The Bible tells us nothing of the actual delivery. Was it long and painful, resulting in contraction after contraction for hours? Or was it short and cutting–like quickly ripping off a Band Aid? Was Mary a loud laboring mama, braying like the donkey? Or was she more reserved? Was she scared? Did she cry? Did she vomit? How tightly did she grip Joseph’s hand? And when Jesus emerged from Mary’s body, did he cry immediately? Did he have difficulty latching on her breast to nurse? How did Joseph cut the umbilical cord? Did Mary experience tearing? So many unanswered questions…
I don’t believe Jesus was this perfect baby who never cried and slept for 8 hours at at a time. I like to think that Mary and Joseph struggled with perhaps a colicy baby, or a spitty Jesus who created a lot of laundry. Maybe he was even gassy. I like to imagine that Mary and Joseph argued about who would rise in the night to change a diaper.
Joseph: “you have to nurse him anyway and I have to work tomorrow.”
Mary: “I stayed home all day with him, you change him and I’ll feed him after.”
Ultimately, nobody knows why God sent a savior in the form of a baby: Jesus, born to earthly parents and raised among society only to be sacrificed for the sins of humanity. I like to think it’s because there is something so incredibly sacred about a baby: their sweet smelling skin, their absolute innocence, their helplessness–completely reliant on their parents; the miracle of birth-not only the birth of Jesus but the birth of all babies, even those who have left this earth.