Did Jesus Cry Like Any Other Baby?

by Dec 24, 20160 comments

Did Jesus cry like any other baby? Some Christmas carols that we sing this time of year seem to suggest otherwise, such as Away in a Manger:

The cattle are lowing
The poor baby wakes
But little Lord Jesus
No crying he makes

Now, I’m not sure that the lyrics were intended to imply that Jesus never cried, but regardless, we must be very clear to affirm that Jesus was a real human being who cried as a baby as the normal means of expressing his needs—hunger, fatigue, desire to be held. Moreover, Jesus, the “man of sorrows” (Isa. 53:3), wept as an adult (John 11:35).

Unless he was fully God and fully man, united in one person, Christ has no standing to save other human beings. As Gregory of Nazianzus wrote, “For that which He has not assumed He has not healed; but that which is united to His Godhead is also saved.” It would be a serious error of Christology (theology about Christ) to suggest that Christ was not fully human in some way.

Jesus Cried, but Not in the Same Way

But if it is an error of Christology to suggest that Jesus never cried, it is also a serious of anthropology (theology about human beings) to suggest that all infant crying is innocent. All infants (other than Jesus) inherit the curse of sin from the womb (Ps. 51:5), which twists every part of our humanity from even our first days.

The church father Augustine reflects on the sin-laden nature of crying babies in his autobiography, Confessions:

Who can recall to me the sins I committed as a baby? For in your sight no man is free from sin, not even a child who has lived only one day on earth….It can hardly be right for a child, even at that age, to cry for everything, including things which would harm him; to work himself into a tantrum against people older than himself and not required to obey him; and to try his best to strike and hurt others who know better than he does, including his own parents, when they do not give in to him and refuse to pander to whims which would only do him harm. This shows that, if babies are innocent, it is not for lack of will to do harm, but for lack of strength. (Augustine, Confessions, Book I.7, 27–28.)

Jesus cried, but because he was without sin, he did not cry in the same way that other babies do.

Jesus Came to Save Babies Too

It is difficult for us to comprehend how deep the rabbit hole of our depravity goes. Babies are cute, but they too are slaves to sin, born with a desperate need for a sinless Savior.

Jesus came to seek and save the lost, and even newborn infants need the miracle of new birth from the Holy Spirit (Ps. 22:9–10; Luke 1:15, 41; Luke 18:15–17) so that God himself will one day wipe away every tear from their eyes too (Rev. 21:4).

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