Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Warrior Babe

What do you see when you look at the Christ Child in Bethlehem's manger: a tiny, vulnerable, helpless baby? Last weekend the children's choir at my church sang, "This Little Babe" by Benjamin Britten. It gave me an entirely different perspective on that Baby in a manger.

1. This little Babe so few days old,
Is come to rifle Satan's fold;
All hell doth at His presence quake,
though He Himself for cold do shake;
For in this week unarmed wise
the gates of hell He will surprise.

2. With tears He fights and wins the field,
His naked breast stands for a shield.
His battering shot are babish cries,
His arrows looks of weeping eyes.
His martial ensigns cold and need,
And feeble flesh His warrior's steed.

3. His camp is pitched in a stall,
His bulwark but a broken wall;
The crib His trench, haystalks His stakes,
Of shepherds He His muster makes.
And thus as sure His foe to wound,
The angels' trumps alarum(1) sound.

4. My soul with Christ join thou in fight;
Stick to the tents that He hath pight(2).
Within His crib is surest ward;
This little Babe will by thy guard.
If thou wilt foil thy foes with joy,
Then flit not from this heavenly Boy.

1. "alarum" - Old English for "alarm"
2. "pight" - Old English for "pitched"

Britten set the music to the last four stanzas of Robert Southwell's poem "New Heaven, New War." The "New Heaven" part calls on the angels to come to earth to celebrate the new dwelling place of their God and King. Britten's "This Little Babe" is the "New War" half of the poem. (Most guys probably don't read too much poetry, but this one is worthy of consideration.) You can check it out by clicking here!

That's one of the most intriguing things about Christmas. Who would ever expect God to become a vulnerable, helpless human baby, so He can take the battle to Satan? We'd more likely picture an epic Hollywood production with the glorious Son of God leading His angel armies in battle, blasting the evil vermin to smithereens, as their withered forms come crashing to the ground. But God's ways are not our ways. All our human eyes see is a tiny human baby. But through the eyes of faith we can see Southwell's Warrior Babe.

But the same thing applies to Jesus' crucifixion struggle with Satan. Who would expect it to occur at a place of execution? On Good Friday Jesus carries a great beam of wood to that decisive battle, but who would expect Him to permit Himself to be nailed to it? But it is precisely through that humility that He crushes the serpent's head. In His suffering and death He pays the price for human sin, setting us forever free from sin, death and hell.

That's the true wonder of Christmas: God's Son became one of us, arriving as He did, a small, vulnerable human to win salvation for each and every one.

Merry Christmas!

As we celebrate and revere God's Son of salvation this Christmas, we are renewed as we press on in faith in a tumultuous and uncertain world.

What does His appearance mean to you?

We'd be interested in hearing your views. You can tell us by clicking here!

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