A cry of shock as as cold air meets brand-new skin. A gasp of breath as little lungs inhale air tinged with sweet hay and sour manure. A head of damp, dark hair scrubbed until curls frame a fragile face. Dark eyes squinting in the light of a lantern, pink mouth yawning, cheeks flushing as a tiny heart pumps blood through limbs swaddled snuggly in strips of cloth.
Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel…
A baby’s cry breaking four hundred years of silence. Four hundred years of listening and longing pierced by the shrill squeal of an infant. The answer to countless questions shouted at the night sky and hidden in the darkest corners of the heart.
…and ransom captive Israel…
A virgin whispering the lyrics of a lullaby she’s too young to know, learning to soothe a Son she didn’t plan. Feeling the heartbeat of God pulse against hers as she cradles her Creator.
…that mourns in lonely exile here…
A worn and weary carpenter, watching Redemption rest. Dirt-caked nails and calloused hands folded in reverence, heart bowed at the sight of the Savior.
…until the Son of God appears…
Tough and tattered shepherds, crowding in to see. Tears trailing from tired eyes, down dirty cheeks,soaking into torn cloaks. Ears still ringing from Heaven rejoicing; hands still shaking from the sight of angelic hosts filling the skies.
…Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, oh Israel…
The glory of God tucked into a child; the Darling of Heaven nestled in the arms of dust. The Most High and Holy becoming the most humble and helpless. Pure Grace spilling into a dirty barn. Mercy breathing in a manger.
Oh come, thou rod of Jesse…
Into a world of weeping and wondering and waiting. Into a world of broken promises and broken hearts and broken dreams. Into a world of disappointment and discouragement and distress. Into a world that often feels as if hell itself has gurgled up through the ground.
…free Thine own from Satan’s tyranny…
Into a world that slaughters the helpless unborn, a helpless Newborn brings salvation.
Into a world where terror reigns, a tiny Baby comes to redeem.
Into a world of depravity and despair, a Child is delivered to bring deliverance.
Into madness, a miracle emerges. The Infinite becomes incarnate, stepping down into time and space. The King who commands the skies limits Himself to hungry cries and a neck too weak to hold up His head. The God who declared, “Let there be light!” lies in the shadows in a feeding trough.
…From depths of hell Thy people save…
His limbs stretch in lanky adolescence and His voice changes its pitch and He grows. His eyes shine with compassion and the Lord of life itself washes the feet of His followers. He who is sinless serves swindlers and prostitutes and liars and betrayers.
The Perfect One heals the plagued and the paralyzed and the possessed.
His cheek willingly accepts the kiss of betrayal and Deity drinks the cup of suffering.
Those once-wrinkly fingers stretch across a wooden beam, nails driving into once-tender palms.
A crown of thorns is shoved onto the head once covered in soft curls.
A heart breaks and blood spills and that once small, puckered pink mouth declares, It. Is. Finished.
A mother falls to the ground and sobs at the sight of her Son bearing the weight of the wrath of God.
Heaven looks away.
And Life dies.
Just when the promise seems to have passed, when forever seems to have expired, when hearts hurt too much to hope…
…and give them victory o’er the grave…
Life. Breath. Heartbeat. Redemption. Rescue. Salvation.
God’s final answer to the failure and frustration and filth. Freedom.
The Master steps down into madness to save those who believe in the name of His Son. Those who believe in a manger and a miracle. In a Savior and a sacrifice. In the ultimate solution to the soul-deep stains of sin.
In a baby born to die. A child coming to carry a cross.
…Emmanuel shall come to thee, oh Israel.
An infant arriving to save the world now sleeps in a bed of straw.
God seeing and saving and staying.
Emmanuel. God with us.
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone…
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
– Isaiah 9:2,6
Our King has come. Oh come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.