Picture This

In the hit TV series “The Golden Girls,” Dorothy’s mother Sophia used to substantiate her arguments by relating an incident from her early life in Sicily.

She would usually begin: “Picture this. Sicily, 1932…” and then carry on with her story, having the other girls roll their eyes heavenward.

And Dorothy would say in her bold strong voice. “Ma, not again?”

In somewhat light-hearted spirit but also with joy, I want you to picture this. About 3959 HSC (Hebrew Sacred Calendar), Bethlehem in Palestine. A sudden wail from a newborn baby. If there was a donkey in the stable, it would have brayed in fright and indignation for a wailing Child was in the crib lying on its fodder.

Maybe the braying could have been a prophetic noise about this very Baby riding on a foal of his kin, 30 years down the line.

Who was this man-to-be?

He would become the Man of sorrows. He would be raised to painful death in public view. He would be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

But for now, who and what was He?

His birth was announced in thunderous hallelujahs by a mighty host of angels who swept down to tell some lowly shepherds their King was born in a manger in Bethlehem.

Their shouts of acclamation recognized him as the son of God who had become the son of man with a mighty mission. He was to save the world! Believe it or not!

He was God the Son, the word of God who became flesh according to the scriptures.

In the Thirty-Five Beliefs of Grace Communion International, it is stated that Jesus was born in the normal way, grew in the normal way, got hungry and thirsty and tired, ate and drank and slept. He looked normal, talked in ordinary language, and walked in the normal way. He had emotions, such as compassion, surprise, sorrow and apprehension (Matthew 9:36; Luke 7:9; John 11:38; Matthew 26:37). He prayed to God, as humans need to. He called himself a man and other people called him a man. He was a human being.

“But Jesus was such an extraordinary human,” continues the Statement of Beliefs.“ If he were merely human, his teaching was arrogant and sinful. But Jesus backed up his words when he claimed to be the son of God, with some amazing actions. ‘Believe me when I say I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracle’ (John 14:11). Miracles can’t force anyone to believe, but they can provide powerful supporting evidence.”

Who did he think he was?

Peter replied to Jesus’ question about who he was, saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven” (Matthew16:16, 17).

Jesus was the Word of God, (John 1:1) the Son of God, the Christ, the Messiah – the One appointed by God for a special mission.

That mission brought the Word of God to the manger in Bethlehem as a helpless baby. He grew to manhood, became a martyr and was raised up from the grave, a divine being.

His promise was to raise us up through God’s Holy Spirit, to become like him and live with him eternally. What a man, what a mission, what a promise!

Can you picture this? Can you believe it?