When my eldest niece was a toddler, she loved board books. At her grandma’s house she loved the books about red Jesus and blue Jesus. One was a story of Christmas, and one was a story of Easter. She got that there was some kind of connections between the two, but she didn’t quite grasp that the baby and the man were the same person.
It’s true that Christmas and Easter evoke very different responses in us. At Christmas there is a tendency to focus on the humanity of Jesus. The birth of a baby, with all the vulnerability it implies, emphasizes the humanity.
At Easter, although we think of the humanity of Jesus during his passion, Easter itself leads us to focus on his divinity and the glorious defeat over death and the powers that bind us. sometimes even for adults it is challenging to connect baby Jesus and adult Jesus together, both the humanity and the divinity.
I recently came across the following quote from Martin Luther, “The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem is not a one-time story, but a gift that will last forever.” The gift of Jesus, both human and divine, is a gift that will last forever.
We can identify with the vulnerability of the infant Jesus, and even the suffering Jesus. These are human experiences that we can relate to and therefore we can trust that Jesus understands what we are going through.
The Jesus during his ministry is sometimes harder to relate to. His miracles, his teaching, his great love can make him feel so different from our abilities and experiences. And the risen Christ is so awesome and glorious that we can feel even more distant.
On the other hand, what wonderful hope it gives to us in our time of need, that Jesus is with us, that miracles can happen, and that the powers of this earth will not stand against the liberating Christ.
It is only when we put the human and divine Jesus together that we get a full and true picture. Red Jesus and blue Jesus are one and the same.
This precious gift from God who came to love and save the world, and who promises to love and save us just as we are, this is a gift that will last forever. Thanks be to God! I pray for each one of you all the blessings of this Christmas. Amen.
Rev. Susan Johnson
ELCIC National Bishop