December 21, 1993
Babies, as wonderful as they are, can certainly disrupt a household. Even though our children have been adults several years, both my husband and I remember those cries in the middle of the night, not getting enough sleep, and knowing if we ignore the burp that just won’t come, sleeping baby will wake up screaming very soon.
Besides those sleepless nights, babies cost money. Medicare covered most of the delivery bills but after that, other expenses added up, as did the pile of baby “stuff” we spent it on. A weekend at the in-laws during pre-baby days meant grabbing an overnight case and hopping in the car, but a baby meant boxes of this and bags of that. Diapers alone can take up half the back seat.
Did we let these things ruin the joy of having a baby in the house? Not at all. This extra responsibility was worth the effort; our babies were precious to us.
About 2000 years ago, another baby was born in Bethlehem. Since there were no hospitals, his parents didn’t have to pay any medical expenses. Since the innkeeper put them in his “overflow wing” in the stable out back, it is unlikely he charged them for their room.
It was just as well. The parents of this baby were not wealthy. They were not in Bethlehem on vacation either, but had to travel there because Roman law demanded it. Since there is no trunk space or back seat on a donkey, they couldn’t have taken much with them even if they wanted to. Having a baby under these circumstances was certainly not convenient.
This baby disrupted their plans in other ways. Not that they didn’t want a family, but Mary and Joseph were still in the betrothal stage of their marriage. This meant they were legally united but had not yet slept together. How would Mary explain to friends and relatives that her pregnancy was a miracle?
Even when she told Joseph about the baby, he considered quietly divorcing her. Only an angel changed his mind, giving him the same message Mary had received: this child was the Son of God. So Joseph went ahead and took her as his wife.
Imagine raising the Son of God. No doubt He was a good baby yet the responsibility for His care must have been disruptive too. Not only that, having a sinless little boy in their house must have made them feel convicted and decidedly uncomfortable about their own shortcomings. Did any of the neighborhood children even want to play with Him?
Was Joseph avoided and Mary laughed at? Did their families believe them? And did some people react to this baby as some today do: as long as a baby coos and lies helpless and quiet it is fine, but as soon as baby makes demands, pressure mounts and the baby is not as much fun any more?
The Bible does not say much about Jesus’ baby days except that shepherds rushed to worship Him and king-makers from the East brought Him gifts. The manger scene was no threat to them and Christmas was fun. When He grew up, maybe it was the same people who rushed to see Him perform miracles and especially enjoyed having Him feed them, free of charge.
But there were those (who may have normally loved babies) that didn’t like this Baby. Herod tried to kill Him when He was less than two years old. Thirty years later, as the crowds heard Him cry out about His demand on their lives, the pressure mounted and they decided, “We will not have this man rule over us.”
The Baby was not as much fun any more.