When Jesus came to this earth over 2000 years ago, he came as a child — a baby. Although he was God in human flesh, he didn’t have the kind of birth that should be owed to the future king. Rather being born in a warm, clean hospital, his parents were kicked out to the barn to spend the night sleeping with animals, hay, and manure.
The King of all kings and the Lord of all lords was born in a manger in the city of Bethleham, and nobody took notice except for a teenage virgin, a young carpenter, thee confused shepherds, and several bewildered animals. Reading through Max Lucado’s book, God Came Near, he says it well with the following…
Near the young mother sits the weary father. If anyone is dozing, he is. He can’t remember the last time he sat down. And now that the excitement has subsided a bit, now that Mary and the baby are comfortable, he leans against the wall of the stable and feels his eyes grow heavy. He still hasn’t figured it all out. The mystery of the event puzzles him, but he hasn’t the energy to wrestle with the questions. What’s important is that the baby is fine, and Mary is safe. As sleep comes, he remembers the name the angel told him to use… Jesus. “We will call him Jesus.”
Wide awake is Mary. My, how young she looks! Her head rests on the soft leather of Joseph’s saddle. The pain has been eclipsed by wonder. She looks into the face of the baby. Her son. Her Lord. His Majesty. At this point in history, the human being who best understands who God is and what He is doing is a teenage girl in a smelly stable. She can’t take her eyes off him. Somehow Mary knows that she is holding God. So this is he. She remembers the words of the angel. “His kingdom will never end.”
He looks like anything but a king. His face is prunish and red. His cry, though strong and healthy, is still the helpless and piercing cry of a baby. And he is absolutely dependent upon Mary for his well-being.
Majesty in the midst of the mundane. Holiness in the filth of sheep manure and sweat. Divinity entering the world on the floor of a stable, through the womb of a teenager and in the presence of a carpenter.
God came to earth for us. He left behind the majesty and divinity of Heaven to come to this earth… and he did it for us. Max Lucado goes on to say more…
Think about it. Just because one has witnessed a thousand rainbows doesn’t mean he’s seen the grandeur of one. One can live near a garden and fail to focus on the splendor of the flower. A man can spend a lifetime with a woman and never pause to look into her soul.
And a person can be all that goodness calls him to be and still never see the Author of life.
Being honest or moral or even religious doesn’t necessarily mean we will see him. No. We may see what others see in him. Or we may hear what some say he said. But until we see him for ourselves, until our own sight is given, we may think we see him, having in reality seen only a hazy form in the gray semidarkness.
Have you seen him?
Have you caught a glimpse of His Majesty? A word is placed in a receptive crevice of your heart that causes you, ever so briefly, to see his face. You hear a verse read in a tone you’d never heard, or explained in a way you’d never thought, and one more piece of the puzzle falls into place. Someone touches your painful spirit as only one sent from him could do… and there he is.
The man. The bronzed Galilean who spoke with such thunderous authority and loved with such childlike humility.
The God. The one who claimed to be older than time and greater than death.
Gone is the pomp of religion; dissipated is the fog of theology. Momentarily lifted is the opaque curtain of controversy and opinion. Erased are our own blinding errors and egotism. And there he stands.
Have you seen him?
And he is the reason why we celebrate. How awesome a friend he is. And when a fantastically awesome friend of yours has a birthday, you want to celebrate in his honor. And that is what Christmas is about. Not about capitalism, and whining kids, or even about the tree and the lights, but about the birthday of Jesus Christ, the one true living God.
He is truly great, and that’s why we celebrate this season every year. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas, and that you all remember that beyond the tinsel, lights, and presents, it all comes down to Christ.