But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed. – Isaiah 53:5 (NRSV)
In Isaiah’s poem about the suffering servant Christians see images of Jesus the Christ. As we celebrate Christmas, do you celebrate the reason Jesus came? What was the reason Jesus arrived? What is it about this baby that you believe is a gift?
I once heard a story about a boy who stole comics from a library. His father found out what he did and together they went to the library, gave them back, and the father forced his son to apologize. On the way home the boy got a stern lecture.
That summer when they were on vacation the boy stole comics again, this time from a store. When he arrived home the father found them, confronted his son, and this time burned them in their fireplace. As the fire burned he gave his son a stern lecture.
A couple of months after that the boy stole comic books from a bookstore. This time the father said, “I am going to have to spank you because you keep doing this.” However the father didn’t want to hurt his son and after spanking him he told the boy to wait there for a lecture and think about what he did. The father went outside the room and closed the door. Loud enough for the boy to hear the father started crying. Not wanting his son to see him like that he went and washed up before he went in to lecture the boy.
Years later the boy’s mother recalled that the boy stole comic books and asked him if he stopped because his father had spanked him. “No,” he said, “I stopped because I heard dad crying after he left the room.”
The lesson the boy learned wasn’t in punishment, but in the realization that he hurt his father. Even at Christmas when we see that little baby, there is in his eyes the whole pain of the world that he will take. It is easy for us to just see a baby, but if that’s all we see we are no better than the Innkeeper who had no idea what was going on just outside his Inn. When we celebrate Christmas we are celebrating that God was willing to cry out loud instead of punish, and to be hurt instead of inflict pain. There is a lesson we can learn here, let us pray that we learn it.