God With Us: From Bethlehem to Newtown

Twenty little kids slaughtered with an assault rifle. Mostly first graders, the medical examiner said on television. Shot by a twenty-year-old for reasons not understood.

The events in Newtown, Connecticut have horrified our country and the world. The brutality of the mass killing of innocents has shaken us to the core. We can’t help but ask, Why? Even Christians wonder how a loving God could allow such a thing to happen.

For a world in grief, the Christmas story provides some clarity. Jesus wasn’t born into a world of easy circumstances, free of pain. As a part of the Trinity, co-equal with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, Jesus IS all-powerful, all-knowing God. He could have chosen many routes to save a sinful world.

But He chose to be born as a human baby, living a human life with all of its pain. He was born in a barn with filthy animals. He lived in a land under oppressive rule. The king of this land was so threatened by Jesus’ birth that he ordered all children under two years old to be killed. Jesus’ earthly parents had to flee to another country to avoid the slaughter of those innocents.

It was hardly an easy way for God to choose to live. But He chose it with purpose.

Often the Christmas story has been reduced to a pretty Nativity set on a shelf, or to Linus reciting Luke 2 in A Charlie Brown Christmas. In reality though, it is a story about God’s sacrifice, of choosing to live in a world full of darkness and be its Light. He came to live among us with all of our sinful ugliness and brokenness. He wasn’t coming to give the divine answers from a distance.  He came to give us abundant life right here among us, relating to our struggles, Immanuel, truly being God With Us.

The story continues. During Jesus’ earthly ministry, his message was ignored and mocked and hated. It seemed that His ministry ended when God was crucified like a criminal to the mockery of a crowd. It was suffering and injustice at their most powerful, a Messiah preaching love and peace executed in the most humiliating way possible.

This was how God purposefully chose to redeem humans from sin: through pain and suffering and sacrifice.

Did God’s Son take the easy, painless route? Hardly.

The good news is that Jesus conquered suffering and death in the resurrection! The life begun as a baby in a manger became the ultimate demonstration of God’s power and love for a world of sinful people.

The work of that infant Savior isn’t done yet.  He is among us and knows what it is like to hurt and question, but He also knows that He will have the ultimate victory over sin and death. Until that happens, we will continue to live in a world where tragedy and sin seem to rule, where small children can be killed on a quiet Friday morning for no reason that we can fathom.

But His Kingdom is coming. Jesus even said it’s already at hand. So we must follow Jesus’ example of being Light to a world filled with pain. We must let the world know that a baby born in Bethlehem, fully God and fully human, understands our suffering because He lived it. God chose the difficult path to bring hope to a seemingly hopeless world. And just like Him, our purpose is to bring this Light and this Hope and this Love to a suffering world. He changes lives. He redeems souls. He restores broken and grieving hearts.

He is Immanuel, God With Us.


Blog entry by:  Nancy Vasquez