The Christmas Story that We Seem to Miss
Christmas comes and goes every year, often in a blur. We can hardly help do anything but merely make it through. In the process, the most amazing story that we can ever know becomes a stale “fairy tale,” instead of the history changing event it really is. Hopefully we can take a moment to slow down, at the very least after the holiday passes, to consider the miracle that we were supposed to be celebrating.
The Lion of Judah laid in a manger with sheep
Christ’s condescension (the term for his becoming man and coming to Earth) is truly amazing because of one truth: His starting point. Not a starting point in time, as Christ eternally exists, but a starting point of greatness that defines the greatness of what we celebrate.
If Jesus is something other than the infinite God, then his becoming man isn’t earth-shattering. But, because Jesus Christ is the King of Glory, the King of all Kings, the Mighty God, the one who made and sustains all things, the one to whom every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord of all–because that God set aside a glory we can’t even fully comprehend, his coming is miraculous, eearth-shattering and worthy of celebration and wonder.
This Earth shattering is the incarnation. That’s what the season of Christmas is supposed to be about. How rarely do we really consider the eternal glory of the Lion of Judah that came as a helpless child in a manger?
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth…all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.
– Colossians 1:15-19 ESV
Laid in a manger and on a cross
We can connect the Christmas season with vague notions of warm feelings and “peace on Earth” without connecting it to the work of redemption. The child in the manger wasn’t going to bring peace on earth and goodwill to men with warm feelings–the child came to be the Savior, the sacrifice, and the Messiah (c.f. Luke 2). He brings peace on Earth by one thing, “reconciling to Himself all things by the blood of his cross.” (Colossians 1:20 ESV)
He reconciled us to himself, even though it was him that we rebelled against. He came to pay the price of the sin of his people on that cross. This king of glory had every right to come in judgment, but instead, he came in mercy and love. He showed incredible love to lay down his glory and his life on behalf of the least deserving–you and I. The Lamb of God was laid in a manger so that He could be laid on a cross.
This is the story of Christmas that we seem to miss, even though it is the center of our faith.
Christmas means change
The king of all glory came to live, suffer, and die on behalf of sinners. All because of His mercy and love. This love is more amazing than anything we can imagine.
And we often treat it as less than remarkable.
We need to be amazed by this story again. We need to remember the glory that Christ laid aside and the life that he laid down. We need to train our eyes on the wrath of God that he bore on our behalf.
If we really know this love, it will change us. This love should lead us to love God in response to his radical love. This should make us love others (family, friends, strangers), because of God’s radical love shown for us.
This love demands that our priorities change. This demands our worship, our wallets, our time, and our every pursuit. But, does it?
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
– 1 John 4:9-11 ESV