Since the movie The Nativity Story came out a few years ago, I’ve made watching it one of my Christmas traditions. To help me remember what this season is all about.
I don’t remember the first time I heard the story.
I remember playing with the ceramic figurines in the cardboard nativity scene beneath our Christmas tree when I was little. And knowing who everyone was.
Even though I didn’t understand much more than that about the story at first, like many others, I chose to believe there was something very special about that baby.
I liked that baby. He was like me.
It’s the same reason we like Superman – almost. We like the story of a human baby who comes to earth from a different universe, endowed with supernatural powers to rescue us, but on the outside, very ordinary. The thing is, Clark Kent wasn’t really one of us. He was more resistant to evil forces. He could stick his hand in the fire and not get burned. He didn’t get hurt as easily. Until he came in contact with kryptonite.
It wasn’t like that for the baby, Jesus. Or the toddler. The boy. The teenager. The man.
He could get burned.
That’s the thing about Jesus’ story that touches me most. That he was fully human. He wasn’t some superpower coated in Teflon or royalty treated with special privileges.
He was truly one of us.
Immersed in the culture and customs of his time.
Influenced by the imperfect people living around him.
Limited by a physical body.
Not removed from the hardships of poverty and tyranny.
Wounded by the jeers and rejection of others growing up.
By the betrayal of friends.
He wasn’t protected from the cruelty of this world.
Anymore than you and I are protected, just because we believe that baby in the manger is God come to earth.
A precious drooling, crying, nursing baby who needed his diapers changed just like we did.
Ironic as it is, that’s a God I can trust. A God I can relate to. Not just tonight and tomorrow.
All year long.