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 1:14
Some people love the Christmas season. They love the lights, the shopping, the decorating, the music, the baking of Christmas cookies, the gift exchanges, the parties. Christmases past are a jolly specter of their fondest memories.
Others dread it. They dread the expense, the crowds, the busyness, the stress, the endless expectations, the forced gatherings. Christmases past are remembered merely for their warning of what is certain to come.
Meanwhile both camps could very well be missing the point.
Yes, Christmastime means lights, shopping, decorating, music, baking, gifts, parties, expense, crowds, busyness, stress, expectations and forced gatherings. But let’s not forget the baby born in a manger.
Emmanuel, God is with us. The God of the universe, the author of everything seen and unseen, gave up the glories of heaven and was born as a weak, helpless infant in the humblest of circumstances. Yet this was the King of Kings and Lord of Lords . . .
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness. – Philippians 2:6-7
Though He Himself was above them, He would submit Himself to His earthly parents. He would embrace hard manual labor, and He would embrace suffering. He would, in fact, be tempted in every way we are, yet remain without sin (Hebrews 4:15). And as He looked upon us – fallen creatures that we are – He had compassion, speaking words of life and healing and love and truth.
He often had no place to lay His head, and people followed Him to satisfy their own desires for food, healing or a glimpse of the miraculous. And when they could use Him no more, He was mocked and reviled until He finally achieved what He was born to do: to die. But then, rising again, He defeated death and hell so that we could have life.
Yet to all who received Him, to all who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God. – John 1:12
His life, His death and His resurrection are the Christian’s unique hope. We alone serve a God who so loved the world that He put on mortal flesh, living and walking and dying and rising among us.
I’m reminded of a story the late Paul Harvey shared years ago about a stubborn old farmer who chose to stay home from church one Christmas Eve. While the farmer sat in his warm home, he heard birds crashing against his window as they were caught in the wind of a driving snowstorm.
He put on his coat and went outside. He tried to shoo the birds into his barn where they would be safe, but they were too frightened. He then tried to lure them into the barn with food, but they wouldn’t trust him.
“If only I could be a bird,” he thought. “I would have to be one of them so they could see and hear and understand.”
With the pealing of the church bells, the farmer then himself understood. He understood that God came down to show us the way to eternal safety in Him. And at that moment, the farmer fell to his knees and worshiped.
Emmanuel, God is with us. Remember the farmer. Remember the birds. Most of all, remember the God born as a babe, the one whose birth we celebrate this season. In that you’ll find the true spirit of Christmas.