It’s officially Christmas in the Texas Panhandle now that it’s past midnight. The last of my family members just headed to bed and I just finished up my church’s Advent reading (I credit a lot of my thoughts below to the reading). I am thankful to be a part of a place that resources me well to grow and constantly remember the implications of the holiday season.
This Christmas season has been a good one with much reflection on the fact that God came to Earth. Tonight at the Christmas Eve service we sang Away in a Manger. For some reason as I was singing, it I felt like it was an injustice to the truth of Christmas. Yes, there was a baby. No, it is not inherently wrong to sing a lullaby about it. But to me, it didn’t captivate the grandiose event that it was. The power, the shift, the fulfillment, the mystery of it all.
God. Came. To. Earth.
It was a promise to God’s people for thousands of years. He told them that there would be someone to physically live among them that would save them. Not just save them from daily toil, sickness, heart ache and all of the less desired situations they and we find ourselves in, rather, He told them that there would be a way that they did not have to preform, earn, gain, stock up, plan out, or manage in regards to making themselves acceptable before God. They could know God intimately without having to do anything. See, these people lived their lives making physical sacrifices of animals to prove themselves as worthy before God. We do that today still, but instead of killing an animal on behalf of our family or nation we do things like go to church, don’t cuss, don’t drink, help the poor, give money….we somehow make a list of the things that we think make us a “better person.” Going to church is good. Not cussing is beneficial, using alcohol appropriately is righteous…but none of these things in and of themselves do anything for us. God told His people only one thing would prove to make them acceptable and saved to God. Only one thing would create security in their relationship to God.
Only. One. Thing…… The Fulfillment of His promise.
So what God had promised his people was that a man would be sent. A church phrase that is used often is “Incarnation.” That means that God took on human flesh. Andy why did He do this? To rescue us, all of humanity.
Think on this as you think of Christmas. It’s pretty epic. Much more than a season. Much more than some Christmas Carols. Much more than the tiny inklings of fulfillment that I receive by all the good things of this season. God came miraculously. It was very humble in every form. Instead of coming as a great ruler he came in the form of an embryo in a peasant woman. Not just an embryo formed by man and woman, but God placed himself, subjected himself to someone else’s body. He came in a way where He had to be formed into a human. The Creator of the Universe came through a birth canal. In His birth the cosmic universe changed. All things were pointing to a great event, even astrologers were studying it for years leading up to. There is a common temptation to gloss over the realities of the event of God coming to Earth. It is easy to create a “sweet baby Jesus” in a manger mentality. But seriously, God was on Earth…WHAT? In the form of a baby? In the care of a 15ish year old? God was being held by young, weak, less than noble hands. The familiarity of the story can sometimes take away these staggering truths. The Lord has graciously run many of these epic things through my mind this season. Honestly, I can’t really get my head around it, but it creates a longing in my heart to know more and to meditate on the story more.
What is even more awesome is to think how long this promise had been in motion. If you read the words in the book of John in the first chapter it says that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. he was in the beginning with God. all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-5, 14)
In this scripture Jesus was the spoken Word that is mentioned. Jesus is the physical, spoken, word of God. God manifested himself in the midst of humanity so he could physically speak. It’s amazing because the Holy Bible is the spoken word that is active among us today. It records the works of God from beginning to and and the story of Jesus is the theme of it all. When God decided it was time He became a man named Jesus. And that is why we celebrate Christmas. Although He eternally existed as God, he became human. In this He did not cease to be God. He was fully God and fully man. He was on a mission to share Himself, the Father, with the broken world.
So, God, in His wisdom came as a baby. A baby. To save the world. To allow for us to be perfect when we are not. (We find out more on how that happens through the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ on the Cross). But this is how the epic story was physically put into motion. It’s about God who became man in pursuit of you and me. He came to reveal himself, God, through the life of Christ. Through Christ’s death and through His resurrection.
To put it simply, we a humans have something wrong in us. Look around, it’s not hard to see. So, we are imperfect. God is perfect. Perfection can’t entertain imperfection. The only way an imperfect thing can be in the midst of the perfect thing is if it becomes perfect. That’s the problem. Don’t you think if we could we would be perfect. God demands perfection from us. That again, is a problem. We can’t. God even knows that we can’t. So what did he do? He came to Earth…CHRISTMAS!!!! Christ spent his time on Earth, specifically his three years of ministry telling people about the fact that they were not perfect. Even leading up to God coming to Earth as Christ God would tell his people the same thing and that is why there was so much expectation built up around the coming of a savior. But in order for us to be made perfect there had to be a price that was paid. That is why Christ is so important. His death on the cross was to take on, literally allow for the imperfections that we carry to absorb into him. For all of humanity, he did that. It honestly doesn’t make since. It’s too good to be true. I do nothing and Christ did everything. He absorbed the wrath of God that was meant for me. God is reliable because he kept the promise of the plan of my salvation through Jesus.
This is amazing. It shows that God was not detached from the pain of this world. He came to feel the very pain of this world we live in. He came to experience the joys. In attaching himself to humanity, Jesus suffered the punishment of the cross so that we would not eternally suffer the punishment of our sin. In Matthew 27:50 it talks about Jesus’ death where he yielded his spirit. It says that the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom (which separated the common people from God’s presence). Jesus’ death demonstrated that there was no longer a separation. God himself came to Earth and provided a way for us to be in union with him, forever. It really is crazy that we do nothing to receive this.
We are born blinded by the darkness of sin, but when our faith is transformed by Jesus, light invades the darkness. He is the loving, compassionate source of infinite joy who both created the world by means of himself and was sent to awaken our soul through his life, death, burial and resurrection. Christ redeems us!
So, in all of that, Merry Christmas:) Enjoy the Christmas Hymns, but don’t let the grandiose, epic event slip your mind.