Joseph and Mary watched baby Jesus sleep. He stretched, smiled, then let out a little complaint as Mary removed a piece of hay scratching His neck. His little face relaxed into deep, silent night sleep.
His eyes moved back and forth in rapid eye movement sleep. Sometimes He smiled when He dreamed. Sometimes deep agonizing pain came across His face.
Mary asked, “What do you think He’s dreaming?”
Without looking away Joseph whispered, “I really don’t know.”
There’s no guide-book on how to parent the Savior of the world. The immensity of raising a son, who’s also the Son of the Living God, is beyond comprehension. They really didn’t know what to do except the things that were in front of them minute by minute.
The sleeping newborn was completely, physically dependent on His parents, but there was so much more. How could Mary and Joseph understand that as they smiled upon their sleeping child, He smiled upon them? How could they fathom their dreaming baby was hearing people praying to Him at that very moment? How could they know He was dreaming in human form, but in God form knew everything?
It was beyond the wildest imagination to know baby Jesus was dreaming of creation, because He was there from the beginning. It was impossible to grasp that their baby dreamt of the ages when He sat by His Father on high. There was no way to realize their baby boy dreamed of the choruses he’d heard angels sing, the constant expanse of the stars, and circling path of a hydrogen atom.
There’s no way to appreciate that while Jesus was dreaming, He was also counting the number of breaths Mary breathed in her lifetime, the number of hairs on the leg of an ant, and watching an egg in a bird nest as the chick tapped itself free from inside.
They couldn’t envision that time and history would be measured from this day, the day their child was born.
There was no way to grasp that their baby dreamed of the faces of all people who had, were and would, live on earth. Or that he dreamed of what He was sent to do, healing the lame, giving sight to blind, walking on water, raising Lazarus from the dead. And yet, baby Jesus dreamed.
Jesus dreamed of things that were, are, and will be. He dreamed of willingly placing Himself in the confinements and frailty of a human body, and how Mary and Joseph could not even look upon Him had He not cloaked His light and glory in human flesh.
The restrictions of a human body were so restraining compared to His infinite glory. The requirement for sleep was limiting, for He had never known sleep nor slumber. The need for food was a new twist for an all-powerful God now wrapped in swaddling clothes, yet he dreamed mankind would know Him as the Bread of Life.
Not since creation had Jesus tried on the bodies of every plant, fish and animal in creation. And now, now He placed Himself in the midst of creation, and He dreamed of His huge purpose for becoming flesh and blood. He felt so small, so dependent, so needy in his new human form, yet He knew it was only for a season and that eternity hinged on the days of His earthly life.
Baby Jesus stirred. A look of pain shot across his face. It wasn’t a normal pained face of a baby, but rather a pained face from a broken heart.
Baby Jesus’ dream turned to the fall of man, how man willingly disobeyed and turned away from the God Who loved them. He dreamed of the searing burn of what a righteous, holy, pure God must require of Him as a substitute for man’s sin. He knew the plan, the awful, yet beautiful plan. He knew that redemption, mankind’s forgiveness, and restoration rested upon his tiny little human shoulders.
Baby Jesus dreamed how He would be falsely accused by those He was sent to save. He dreamed of the pain He would feel while being scourged with a whip of nine tails, and winced at how His man flesh would be cut, ripped and torn with every blow of the soldier’s whip.
Baby Jesus cried louder. It was a painful cry. This was Mary’s firstborn, but she had sat and cared for babies before. She looked at Joseph with a desperate, perplexed look, for this was not a wet, hungry or tired cry, but a painful cry, unlike any she had ever heard before.
The new parents tried to comfort Him, but sensed they could do nothing to soothe His pain, nothing, but offer physical comfort.
Mary held Him close as her baby dreamed of nails hammered through his wrists and feet. The baby moved, as if seeking relief, as He dreamed how He would struggle for each breath while hanging naked on a cross.
Mary rocked Him. Joseph reached to cradle His head, yet their baby dreamed how salty sweat and livid spit from hating men would burn into His wounds. In His dream, He heard the taunts, jeers and mockery of His heavenly purpose.
Baby Jesus cried louder. Mary spoke softy, assuring Him He was OK, safe, and at the end of the day, it would all be alright. The baby heard his mother’s assurances, felt her love and compassion as she rocked Him back and forth, but Mary could not save Jesus from what He intended to give.
Mary rocked more fervently as Jesus struggled in her arms, as if fighting off invisible attacks, for Jesus dreamed how Lucifer and the demons of hell would surround Him on the cross.
He dreamed of the torment, torment invisible to the human eye, torment He would endure on the cross. He felt every blow, every strike, every talon dug into His spiritual being as demon by demon, principalities, rulers of darkness each took turns torturing His spirit that He willingly laid down as a sacrifice for mankind.
Baby Jesus tensed in Mary’s arms. Somehow in this new human form, He felt what was to be. The dream was too real, too fast, too sorrowful, but the dream continued.
Baby Jesus dreamed of spiritual, lonely pain as God, the Father Himself, turned His back on His Son. He dreamed of the indescribable pain as every sin, every wrong, every mistake, injustice, illness and death in the history of mankind was laid upon Him. He dreamed how in both physical and spiritual realms how He must willingly accept man’s penalty.
He felt the point of Lucifer’s dagger as he ran it across His chest. He dreamed how Lucifer stood above His spirit, writhing in a devilish, ecstatic, gnarly hatred of the Holy One. He heard the demonic army as a steady beating rhythm, a cadence of talons and claws, drummed in unison, working into a frenzied anticipation of the death of the Son of God.
Baby Jesus dreamed how Satan worked his evil army into a crescendo of hellish anger, raising the dagger above Him, then plunging it deep into His spiritual heart at the exact moment in time that His earthly body died on the cruel cross of man.
Joseph sat motionless. Mary wept. The baby became still.
Baby Jesus settled deep into the comfort of Mary’s tender arms. A warmth surrounded the babe’s body, and His dreams turned to dreams of light, hope, grace, peace.
The baby dreamed of the day a miraculous surge of power would sweep through his lungs and cause a cold heart to immediately beat warm life. He dreamed how He would burst forth as the risen Savior of mankind, and through His love, blood and sacrifice, claim victory over sin, death and the legions of hell.
Jesus dreamed of the sheer amazement and hope of His disciples as the realization of what He had taught them finally made sense. He smiled in His dream as Thomas felt His scars, how John would hug and not let go, and how Peter would jump and swim from a boat just to reach Him faster.
He dreamed of what they, and many throughout time, would endure for His name’s sake. He felt empathy for their future, but smiled upon them all, knowing that He had persevered, passed through the valley of the shadow of death, and no human need ever fear evil again if only they believe and follow.
Joseph’s voice broke the silence of night in heightened alert. He asked Mary, “Why are these men, these shepherds, coming here?”
Mary laid Him in a manger.
Baby Jesus woke from His sleep and smiled, for Mary was right in what she said. At the end of the day, it would all be alright.