The Bear came home from preschool with a plastic baby Jesus last week. I’m going to be honest with you, I didn’t like him. I love that he is learning about Jesus, learning the Bible, and learning so many other wonderful things at preschool. But Plastic Baby Jesus, or PBJ, for short, I wasn’t sure about.
For one thing, PBJ reminded me of the king cakes they bake in New Orleans and hide the baby Jesus in at Christmastime — I only know about this because of a sweet girl my brother dated from there who told me about it. Does this Jesus actually belong in a cake?
For another thing, PBJ was really pale, and his hair was ginger. Real Jesus wasn’t Scottish. These are unlikely attributes of the real baby Jesus.
He was swaddled in a piece of felt, tied with a piece of yarn, and lying on two stretched out cotton balls.
AND. His manger was a plastic cup — the disposable kind that packaged baby food comes in.
I read the note that came along with Plastic Baby Jesus — We’d like for the kids to put the Baby Jesus under the Christmas tree and sing Happy Birthday to him on Christmas morning — and I sighed. Out loud.
Just as quickly as all these thoughts came into my head — a new one emerged.
Wait a minute — wasn’t this the story of the real Baby Jesus?
For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground.
By appearance, in form, by the manner of His arrival, He was rejected.
He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
Nobody thought he was supposed to be the result of an “unplanned” pregnancy — or a lowly carpenter, or a traveling preacher.
He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
The long-awaited Messiah — naturally His life and ministry would begin and end with big fanfare.
He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
The Jews were sure global domination — top to bottom leadership — would be first on His agenda, if He was going to be the new King of Israel.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities.
The Messiah was going to set everything right and deliver His people so they could rule. So they’d no longer be oppressed.
Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.
An arrival announced to shepherds in a field and wise men far away. A dedication at the temple where just an elderly man and a woman with many years praise the Lord for His arrival.
Right from the start, the story of Jesus was precisely the opposite of what many of us would’ve thought, would have chosen or would’ve expected of the Saviour of the world.
And maybe that’s precisely why the humble birth of a baby the world didn’t have room for was the most important birth in the history of mankind — the Love poured out that turned the world upside down.
Where would He arrive, and what would be the manner of His coming, if the Incarnation took place today, I wondered. Would I make room for Him?
My heart made room for that Plastic Baby Jesus.
He is, I’ve decided, a very good representation of the real thing.
Perhaps not by the letter, but in Spirit, his simplicity speaks truth to the Coming of the Saviour — the manger born, humble and glorious King of Kings.