We know the story.
It started with a baby in a manger. The king of the world dropped in the middle of a world that had no room for him, no time for him, no notions of need for the kind of justice and reconciliation he would one day bring them. This world, specifically the Jewish people, longed for a ruler to come that would lead them into victory with his tactical mind and his military might. A king who, like his predecessors, would overwhelm the enemy with shouts of triumph.
These people had no use for a ruler who would come as a tiny baby in a manger. No devotion for a God who would reduce himself to nothing and come to us wrapped in skin. For the ancient world, the birth of Christ, whatever day or month it happened, wasn’t some big event. It was a small event that was witnessed by a bunch of animals and a weeping mother and father who felt the sting of a world that didn’t have time for the savior of the world as evidenced by the fact that they had to birth him in a trough.
And after the king of the world was born, he disappeared from the record of history for almost three decades. How unimpressive is that? Other than the story about him teaching in the temple as a child and some odd gnostic texts about him causing destruction as a kid, he just vanishes. What kind of savior does that?
The answer? The kind that will return after living a life like ours. The kind that would’ve spent those years getting acquainted with a world that would soon hate him. The one who felt every bit of pain that humanity ever felt, who understood temptation and sin better than any of us as one who never gave in. The one who undoubtedly experienced the fullness of life–both in ecstasy and depravity–only to return and preach a message of repentance and salvation.
The birth of Christ led to the crucifixion of Christ. Without his birth, there is no death. And without the death of a Savior who knew us better than we know ourselves, we have no salvation, no peace. It is because the son of God came into a world that hated him that we can fully experience the passionate love of God. Truly, it is because the unassuming, humble son of God came into my life, the life of one who once hated him, and he made me whole, that I am made free.
Christ “became sin” for me and for you so that we might be put in right relationship with God. And that is reason to rejoice. It’s reason to sing, to shout, to scream of the glorious birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ, without whom we have nothing!
For me, so much of that has been missing this Christmas. I’ve been so concerned about my future. I’ve been consumed with the pain of graduating and not knowing what comes next. I have forgotten the calling that God has prepared me for and let my Christmas spirit be consumed by doubt and fear.
But through all the stress and worry about things I can’t control, there is peace. Because God came to earth wrapped in skin. He was born into unimpressive surroundings into an unimpressive socioeconomic class to seemingly unimpressive people. But there was royalty in his blood. There was royalty engraved upon his heart and by his blood, I was adopted into his family. So, this Christmas, I will sit at the feet of King Jesus and be grateful for the grace he gave me, I will shout and sing and weep because my savior loved me enough to die for me.
The shepherds in the fields had no idea what was about to happen to them. But again, God chose the unimpressive to witness the birth of Christ. He still chooses the unimpressive.
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah,the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:-8-12)
And thousands of years later, the angels’ cry still resounds in our hearts. Good news has been brought that will cause great joy for all the people. The people that notice. The people that don’t. Human history was forever changed that day because the author of it stepped into the story to redeem everything that had been stolen from it.
Bear that story. Tell the good news that the world will know Jesus. Tell those who notice. Tell those who don’t. Merry Christmas, everybody!
“God descends to re-ascend. He comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity … down to the very roots and sea-bed of the Nature He has created. But He goes down to come up again and bring the ruined world up with Him. One has the picture of a strong man stooping lower and lower to get himself underneath some great complicated burden. He must stoop in order to lift, he must almost disappear under the load before he incredibly straightens his back and marches off with the whole mass swaying on his shoulders.” -C.S. Lewis