Third Tuesday of Advent: Goodbye, Itsy-Bitsy Jesus
Every warrior’s boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.
It was while I was working for the CCO in the early seventies that I knew my view of Christ was much too itsy-bitsy.
I heard Dr. Pete Steen speak and encountered a book entitled The Coming of the Kingdom. I read this and other books with students, and our visions expanded as we encountered a Messiah-King whose power—and claim on our lives—exceeded our imaginations. We began to perceive the over-consumption, personalism, and individualism that reduced the mighty Word of God to internal, individualistic, and me-centered concerns.
Slowly, we began to see that the Scriptures are more like a rich and varied smorgasbord than a skimpy one-course meal; they are meant to nourish the depths and breadth of all of life.
The Jesus we worship is carved too often in our own image, comfortable and itsy-bitsy. We do not understand nor easily accept the depth and breathtaking sweep of the Messiah-King presented by Isaiah. This is not the god who is cemented to our individual concerns, but the Warrior God who comes to reign and deliver justice and love.
The redemptive-historic context of Isaiah starts with Israel circa 800 B.C. and will extend to our Lord’s Second Coming and beyond. This pregnant time is riddled with the mighty acts of the God of justice—a holy God who will not tolerate sin—who displays his loving wrath for both Israel and the pagan nations to see. God is establishing His kingly government and spreading His loving light in the midst of rebellious darkness, from California to Tibet, through the Heir-Apparent Baby King and His Spirit.
Here in Isaiah, the child is given names appropriate to this task. Christ now governs as Messiah-King, bringing down and exalting nations, places of worship, and leaders. He is the Great Counselor of wisdom for all those who yearn for it. In the putting down of fascism or even Jewish temples, his Might is on display. He is the Father whose faithfulness extends eternally beyond Isaiah and the manger. He brings peace and wholeness. He reconciles breaches in the Body of Christ and in the world around us. All of this is brought about by his fiery zeal, love, and fierce justice.
Christmas is about more clearly seeing a bigger view of Christ.
What if we moved beyond itsy-bitsy Jesus to a more full-bodied, opened up view of the Lord? God would meet us in the center and depth of our Christmas with a whole-life change.
This change is about leading a richer, more varied life.
It is about family as well as politics. It focuses on Christ, yet sees the needs of the world. It is about celebration and solemn prayer. It is about spending money and the overthrow of life-reducing mammon. These seemingly irreconcilable differences, and dozens of others, only are so because we cling to itsy-bitsy Jesus.
Jesus, the Messiah-King, is so much more.
Rev. Dr. Bob Wauzzinski is a scholar, author, teacher, husband, parent, and a former CCO worker—who served two tours of duty. Since then, he has taught with joy prisoners, college students, and PhD candidates. He is the president of Interfacing, an educational ministry.