Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Jesus was a two-year-old
This year at Christmas, I'm amazed by the fact that Jesus was once a two-year old. I see him running into a room and yelling, "I'm hiding," then screaming with delight when someone finds him. I find myself picturing Juliana playing with him like she plays with her little friends, running around in circles till he's dizzy, laughing his face off, then tripping over his feet and falling to the ground, crying for Mary to pick him up and hold him. I picture him spread-eagle, sleeping wedged between Mary and Joseph, while they struggle to find an inch of space to sleep.
I see him climbing into Joseph's lap, asking him to tell the story of the Exodus for the hundredth time (what did they do before picture books?). I picture Joseph laughing with Mary about the peculiar phrases he comes up with. "Daddy, I'm Exiting," he says in Aramaic as he tries to play the part of Moses in the Parting of the Red Sea, using a pile of rocks and a bowl of water as his toys. "He's trying to say he's leading the Exodus," they laugh, wondering if he meant it or it was a grammar mistake, after all he has been adding "ing" and "ly" to an awful lot of words lately. Could the Son of God have made Juliana's grammar mistakes as a two-year-old?
All the while he sings Psalms at the top of his lungs while he plays, then pauses, mid song, when he realizes he desperately needs a snack. And they beam with pride as they look at him and wonder just what he will become, just like we wonder with Juliana. I can see him excitedly mimicking the sounds of every donkey, chicken and cat he sees, then laughing when Mom and Dad remind him where he was born. I wonder if he wandered around seemingly unsupervised like the two-year-old in the shop downstairs did last winter, while her parents worked. Or maybe, when Joseph was working with wood and Mary was doing some chore, his grandparents followed closely behind him, forgetting the shame and doubts they had once had about her untimely pregnancy, wondering if her insistence that it was a miraculous conception may have been true.
I wonder if, perhaps, he was like Juliana was this morning -- giddy with uncontainable excitement -- when the Magi came to bring him strange gifts (after all, we don't really know how old he was at that time -- Could have been a newborn. Could have been two -- after all, Herod killed all the kids 2 and under after learning from the Magi that the King of the Jews had been born ). I picture how some Chinese two-year-olds look at a rare foreign face like they've seen a ghost. Would Jesus have been startled if those Magi from the East were Chinese? Persian? Blonde? Or would he have smiled and welcomed them like other two-year-olds, who haven't yet learned to divide people by race. (as a side note - The possibility that they could have been Chinese, which a teammate mentioned reading about, fascinates me. It's for another time, but in Brent Landau's book (which just went on my reading list) Revelation of the Magi: The Lost Tale of the Wise Men's Journey to Bethlehem a Harvard scholar apparently proposed that a recently-translated 8th century Syriac texts suggests they came from China.)
But more than anything, I'm just as blown away that God would confine himself to the limits of a two-year-old's little body as I am amazed by the fact that he was once a newborn. Maybe it's because I never thought of him as a two-year old before. My mind has followed the Biblical narrative and hop-skipped through his life from the the baby in the manger, to the young boy him lagging behind in Jerusalem making his parents frantic. Then boom, he's about my brother's age, healing the blind and telling people that "blessed are the poor in spirit for they shall inherit the kingdom of God." Then, at my age, he takes the sin of the world upon himself on the cross and days later comes back to life.
I desperately want to fill in those gaps. Not just out of idle curiosity. But because He matters. For the same reason I want to know the stories of what Ruth was like before I knew her. Because those stories shaped who she is. Trying to imagine him at Juliana's age each step of the way is helping me to see all the holes of my knowledge of Him. I pray that He can fill my imagination to give me a fuller picture of who He really is through the eyes of our two-year-old.