The Lamb That Was Slain
You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth (Revelation 5:9b-10).
It is hard to understand the intellectual and emotional condition of Jesus in his human infancy and childhood. Twice, Luke tells us Jesus' childhood was pretty typical. He grew up healthy and strong, was filled with wisdom and God's favor was upon him (Luke 2:40). And again, several verses later, the gospel writer says, Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people (Luke 2:52). The second citation is recorded just after the vignette of the boy Jesus in the Temple listening to the religious leaders and asking them questions. So, in some ways, he was unlike the typical child but, generally, he was simply what we would call a "good kid."
I have often wondered how much the youth Jesus understood his ministry. The sketch provided by Luke mentioned above makes it clear he had some understanding of his purpose. Nevertheless, I can't help but wonder how much he knew about his destiny. After all, he was a normal child – born of a woman born under the law – and would develop as a normal child. As he grew in wisdom he grew in understanding of his purpose. Even as a young boy I imagine he understood he was called to be the eschaton Adam and a sacrifice for God's people but I doubt he knew the details. After all, even on the day of his arrest, Jesus was troubled by the tremendous burden of his responsibilities (Luke 22:41-46). A child would not be able to deal with a full knowledge of what lay ahead.
Yet, that's why Jesus was born. His purpose of making all things new was not something God cobbled together over time. It was the eternal purpose of the triune God. He was born to fulfill the terms of the covenant. He was born to do what Adam had failed to do. He was born to be slaughtered. He was born to shed his blood and ransom people from every tribe, language, people and nation. He was born to receive the kingdom – and we have been born again to receive that kingdom in him (Daniel 7:13-14, 22).
Most Christians recognize the hardship of Jesus' birth and infancy. His parents were not afforded the usual familial hospitality in Bethlehem when he was born. The first couple years of his life, Jesus and his parents were fugitives, dodging the deadly tyranny of Herod and his sons. We assume things settled down after that but the awareness of his purpose would have always been with Jesus – and with Joseph and Mary to a certain degree. When we keep a proper perspective we better understand the tremendous sacrifice made by the Eternal Son. Indeed, though he was God, [Jesus] did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal's death on a cross (Philippians 2:6-8, brackets added).
We thank you Lord Jesus! We thank you for embracing your calling as the great and final sacrifice on behalf of God's people. We give thanks to you, our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ! And we wish each other "Merry Christmas" because of you and all you have done!
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