This year my family is not participating quite as much in the typical traditions of Christmas and I am thinking more about the real implications of this holiday, as some of the distractions are removed, allowing me to look at what Christmas really means with fresh eyes.
God could have just placed his hands over this sinful planet and said ‘Let it be wipped out, without mercy.’ We would have deserved that to happen to us. Instead, we got this. 'For God so loved the world that he sent his one and only begotten son, into the world, that whomsoever believeth in him will not die, but have everlasting life.’ John 3:16
It’s not an easy concept to grasp, I find myself accepting it quite glibly without thinking about the full ramifications of such a sacrifice. Life seems pretty good to us down here because we have no comparisons. We’re like children played in a play pen, rejoicing in our simplistic surroundings. But imagine if the person that made the play pen and toys suddenly climbs into the play pen with us. He becomes a child, stuck in that tiny play pen, playing with simplistic toys that are far less glorious then anything in his world. It’s downright embarrassing to contemplate what Jesus was really thinking while He was on earth. Even a brief perusual of the Gospels constantly reveals Jesus frustration with the men and women around him.
C.S. Lewis once likened Jesus coming to die for us to a human being sacrificing their life for a crab. It was a staggering and humbling analogy. Jesus sank down to a crab’s level, took on the sins of a colony of crabs, died for a colony of crabs, suffered in Hell for a colony of crabs…and remained Holy; the perfect sacrifice. ‘And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death--even death on a cross! ' Philippians 2:8
At Christmas time, what we are really celebrating is Christ’s humility. He humbled himself to become a wailing babe that had to be fed and changed and taught. He had to learn to talk, to run, to work. I personally believe that Christ was particularly ‘advanced’ for a child and that these things came more easily to Him…but how humiliating that he had to do them at all. But He did do it. For me and for everyone that has ever lived and everyone that ever will live.
Sometimes I regret that I wasn’t living in the Holy Land while Jesus was here on Earth. I alternately long to have been able to seem him face to face, and tremble at how I might have reacted to Him...or failed Him.
I have never seen and never shall see Jesus the Man. Instead, I shall see something better. I shall see the Risen Son of God returning to Earth; not as a helpless child, but as a warrior and judge, as a rescuer coming to save his brothers and sisters.
They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matthew 24:30-31)
And this makes me think of how poetically beautiful it would be if he would return to us on Christmas Day.
When I was little, even when I was a teenager, I had difficulty looking forward to this event. I had—and still have—a pretty great life. I am happy here on Earth with my family, I didn’t want it to end. As I got older and as I prayed for the Lord to change my heart, my desires have begun to change.
I look around at this fallen world, see the horrible suffering, the loss, sorrow and sin and I find myself longing for his return so that he can put an end to this place and create it anew. As I see more and more of the perpetual wickedness of mankind, I comfort myself with the Lord’s coming judgment, knowing that these men and women will not go unpunished forever, that evil will not always go unchecked. He’s coming back, not as a child, or even as a man…but as the One seated at the Right Hand of the Most High. He will come with fire, with terror and with awe. And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. Revelation 19:11
This is an intimidating image, even if you are saved. But it helps me to think of it in the following way.
I’m a child, lost in a strange and unknown place, looking desperately for my father. I wander into a rough playground and am caught in a horrible thunderstorm. I’m surrounded by bullies, savage animals and every other imaginable plight. And then suddenly, my Big Brother shows up.
I actually have a very cool big brother who is always there to protect and defend me….I try imaging him on steroids, the best big brother to the power of….a million…and the image is enough to make you gape in admiration, how could I not love a brother so amazing, so perfect, so wonderful?
This Big Brother rushes onto the playground. Like a superhero, he’s faster and more handsome and stronger than anyone I’ve ever seen. He has special and amazing powers; his presence is accompanied by flashes of light, trumpeting music. He kills the animals that tried to hurt me, he seizes the bullies and sends them to my father to receive their just punishment, he stills the thunder storm, then he picks me up, brushes the mud and tears off of me and carries me back home to Daddy.
I’ve got a grin on my face just thinking about it.
In the meantime, here I am, waiting. I still enjoy my life…I’m looking forward to spending this Christmas with my family, participating in all the fun traditions we've have developed over the years. I love these things dearly; they are all great and wonderful gifts but His ways are not my ways…and just like I can never fully wrap my mind around my Father’s greatest gift—His son—I cannot fully comprehend what a magnificent Christmas present it would be if he came back to Earth this month, this week, this day…and brought us to our Father to celebrate Christmas in Heaven with Him.
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:1-3)