He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. (Psalm 121:3-5)
Relate: Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head. The stars in the sky looked down where he lay, the little Lord Jesus asleep in the hay…
So begins the lyrics for what is the second most commonly known Christmas carol of all time. It trails only Silent Night and to be honest, the beef I have with this song can also be laid at the feet of that more popular refrain as well. But that’s a rabbit trail. Ever since its inception, Away in the Manger has been wrongly credited to Martin Luther. What is now believed is that the song was written specifically for that Protestant saint’s 400’th birthday and then credited to him as a marketing ploy. No earlier instance of the song is known.
Either way, whoever did write it, either didn’t have any kids of their own or was not very involved in their care. “The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes, but little Lord Jesus no crying he makes.” Really? Really? Can any mother attest to a baby waking suddenly in the middle of the night and not crying? Is such a thing possible? If Jesus was fully human, I am pretty sure he cried. Think about it. He would later be preaching to audiences close to or more than five figures large long before the advent of sound systems. In my opinion, the baby that would become that man had a set of lungs on Him and plenty of practise using them.
React: Jesus coming to be fully human would mean that He slept, woke crying, pooped, and got hungry and cranky just as any other baby would. But the Psalmist says that the God who watches over Israel never sleeps or slumbers. Does that mean Jesus could not have been both man and God? In answer to this, I would look back to a later event in Jesus life. He had spent the day preaching and miraculously feeding thousands of people. The man was tired. So Jesus headed below deck, curled up and began some pretty heavy sleeping.
A storm comes up and the disciples get scared. One goes below and kicks Jesus awake crying out, “Don’t you care that we’re all going to die?” When Jesus rubbed the sleep out of His eyes, He turned and said, “Oh you of little faith…”
Even though Jesus was physically dead to the world, He was still watching over His own. In the same way, those newborn hands that could barely grasp their mother’s finger still held the world in a perfect grip.