See the Face of God in Bethlehem

From the moment a parent is told the test is positive they begin to wonder. “What will this baby look like?” When we first found out Kristofer, our firstborn, was on the way we looked at our own baby pictures and wondered if he would favor the Brown side or the Campbell side or be a hybrid of both.

Then one day our doctor called us in for an ultrasound. Right there we got our first look at what Kristofer looked like. I decided he mostly took after the Campbell side of the family.

But we really wouldn’t know until the day he left the womb and entered the world. His delivery was not very easy. For over twenty hours I had to hold Karen’s hand, give her ice chips, keep people out of the room, and help her with her breathing. It was a lot of work for one guy.

The doctor eventually felt empathy for me and gave her an epidural. Finally I was able to sit down and watch the news and some sports.

And then it was time. After nine months of a tired body, extra weight, aching back, strange cravings, and hours of labor, this baby entered our world. After all that waiting and expecting, you know what the first thing we wanted to do was? We wanted to see his face. Look into his eyes. Touch his nose. Trace his ears with our fingers. Until we saw his face we hadn’t really seen him.

The Israelites had waited more than nine months. Since the promise to Abraham and the prophecies of Isaiah, they knew he was coming. “‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).”

Mary and Joseph must have wondered if somehow all of this had been a dream. But the first cry from the child broke their thoughts. You have to know that the first thing Mary did was pull the baby close and look into his face.

How incredible that must have been! To look into this baby’s face and see the face of God. That’s the claim of Scripture: that when we see the face Jesus, we see the face of God. 

“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature . . .” “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” Jesus said it himself. “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”

When you see Jesus’ face, you see God. You see a God who is like us: “he made himself nothing . . . being born in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:7).

You see a God who is with us. “Immanuel . . . God with us.” But more than a name, he lived it. John writes that Jesus became flesh and “made his dwelling among us.” He lived among us to such an extent that one writer claimed: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15)

In Jesus you see a God who is with us. With us in our good days. With us in our hard days. With us in our Fridays and with us on our Mondays. He’s not off on some mountaintop in Tibet but he has pitched his tent right in the middle of our messy lives . . . with us.

You see a God who is for us. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

Jesus is the face of God for us. He was for the sinner. He was for the tax collectors. He was for the prostitutes. He was for the poor and the poor in spirit. He was for the mourners and the meek and the persecuted. And he is for you.

That’s the invitation of the Christmas season. You too can see the face of God. Look long into the face of this baby born in Bethlehem. When you do, you’ll see love.

Question: What inspiration do you find during the holiday season?

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