I walked behind them through the Target parking lot. She was a young momma holding the hand of her seemingly two-year-old daughter. The little girl had a slow and steady gait as she laboriously lifted her back foot and swung it through to plant it before her in a Frankenstein sort of way. Her mom offered her stabilizing hand and patient heart, sauntering beside her little girl with eight-inch blond pigtails that flared out the sides of her head with personality plus.
As I enjoyed watching this little one’s steady plodding, I was struck with the realization that Jesus was once her size, struggling to put one foot in front of the other as He walked hand in hand with his momma. Epiphany happened in the Target parking lot. I’ve been thinking much about Jesus, the Prince of Peace, as I’ve walked into Advent this year. I am sure this is what prepared me for this epiphany. Last year, Advent snuck up on me and I struggled to enter into the season, to be present, and receive what its waiting nature had to offer me.
I’m grateful this year is different. This year I had the heart-space to anticipate. To hunger. To welcome its presence with expectancy. I’ve been pondering the Prince of Peace, who came to reform the humanly constructed kingdoms of empire into a Kingdom of Shalom.
I have often thought of Jesus as a baby. After all, Christmas faithfully greets me each year, bringing with it the reminder that God took on flesh because of His desire to be with us. I sing Away in the Manger. I hold Jesus’s metaphorical ceramic baby body as I place Him in the nativity. I too often go through the motions without being moved by them. Though I have often thought of Jesus as a baby, I have never imagined Jesus as a two-year-old.
I periodically think about 12-year-old Jesus when I read the story of Him waxing eloquent to His parents’ inquiry about where He had been when they left Him behind in Jerusalem following the Passover celebration. I still wonder how that happened. And adult Jesus. I entertain thoughts of Him throughout most of my days thanks to all of the vivid New Testament stories in the Bible.
This week: however, I am captured by the idea that the God who walked in the garden with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day toddled beside Mary, steadying his gait with her secure hand.
The Prince of Peace entered this world as a baby in all of His dependent glory.
He toddled beside His parents.
He walked into John’s arms for his baptism in the Jordan River.
He walked into the wilderness to be tested by Satan.
Then he walked into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
The Kingdom of God is at hand…this is the gospel He preached. The Kingdom of Shalom is as close as his hand. All we need to do is walk into it. And Jesus’s proclamation comes with a stunning invitation to be part of His Kingdom-building family; participants in His Shalom project. This is a vision worth the waiting.
The Prince of Peace came to reclaim His authority over Heaven and earth, and to usher in God’s Kingdom of Shalom, to cancel oppression, and reclaim His image-bearers for His Kingdom. He faced off with the humanly constructed kingdoms of empire to which we have fallen prey, inviting us into another way to live—a way that brings peace within us, peace between us, and peace into this world.
When the Bible reaches its climax in the book of Revelation, Jesus once again appears. But instead of walking the streets of Jerusalem, the Prince of Peace is sitting on a heavenly throne.
Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” 3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. 4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders —Revelation 5: 1-6
In Discipleship on the Edge, Johson writes, “It’s the form in which He appears that is most mind-boggling. John [author of Revelation] was expecting to find a roaring lion on the throne. Instead, he turned his head and saw a Lamb.” The Greek word for lamb literally translates lamblet or little lambkin. The King of Kings has every right to usher in His Kingdom as Lord over an empire, as a roaring lion. But the Prince of Peace will usher in the New and Heaven and New Earth with the same kind of vulnerability that has always characterized His gracious rule. It is for the return of this God for whom we wait and watch.
He came to this earth through the birth canal of a teenage woman. He ended His earthly life on a cross. He will usher in the New Heaven and New Earth as the Lamb who was slain—all of this energized by His longing to be with us. And, while we wait, Immanuel walks with us.
It was a toddling girl with flared-out blond pigtails who enabled Advent to drop into my heart this year. Wait. Watch. I would love to hear who or what it is that drops Advent into your heart.