Twas the night before Christmas …I am holed up in Ohio with my family on a rare and precious Christmas trip home. Due to my life overseas I miss a lot of family Christmas’s. This has brought me much gratitude for the little things this year. There is nothing better to write to you about on Christmas eve than the One whom we celebrate. I thought I’d write you a few thoughts on Jesus.
1.) The Virgin birth was significant. Predicted years before it happened (about 2600 years ago). Came true (about 2000 years ago). Matters. It should matter to you.
2.) The birth of Jesus is good news. It is good news for the people before Jesus was born and it is good news to you today. Moses and Abraham (who lived thousands of years before Jesus) were waiting for the coming of Jesus. How many babies do you know of that are good news to people who lived and died before them? Yes. Think about that. The best it can be for most people is if there are future generations so your family name doesn’t die out. Cool but that doesn’t change a lot about your circumstances. This baby came to pay for the sins of the people before him trusting in God’s promise for a Saviour annnd the people after him. This baby came to bring freedom. Now that is dope as my NY friends would say.
3.) Jesus is called many things.. but one of them Immanuel, “God with us,” should make us stop and think.
4.) Jesus (should) matter(s) to you because:
- His odd way of being born to a virgin interrupts the sinfulness all of us are born into. He was born sinless and remained that way. He can give you the forgiveness you want, the clean slate you need, and the new life that can only come through taking on what He is offering you: His own life.
- (As I reread that I should note that it wasn’t sex that was what made us born sinful.. it is being in the line of all the people before who were born sinful. Think of the virgin birth as breaking up the genetics. Just a side note to clarify. Also read The Gospel and Sex by Tim Keller for further clarifying.)
- His humility and nothingness of being born to a poor couple in a barn shows us something shocking about God- God is not a tyrant or far away or indifferent. He loves you very much. He dwelt among us. He knows every pain you have felt. Personal to me at the moment, I can see in the life of Jesus: He has experienced every betrayal that has torn apart my soul. He knows what it is to suffer. He is not far away from grief but understands it, is acquainted with it personally. Even when you and I don’t have answers, we can see something in God the King who was born in a barn to an earthly set of parents that.. we are not alone.. He gets us, He cares, He loved us enough to come live in this space with us.
- The life of Jesus is unlike anyone else’s ever. Try a read of one of the gospels (the biographies of his life in the beginning of the New Testament). Unlike what many people think.. if you read through one you will discover He wasn’t trying to get people to imitate him and give them a set of niceties to follow. He was beginning the process of undoing all the bad. Jesus was ushering in the start of the change to this broken world.. it’s not done yet (in case you were wondering). The life of Jesus is a revolution, ushering in a new way to live, a new kind of Kingdom, God’s Kingdom, the restoration isn’t finished.. but He was starting it.. He was ushering in the return of the King, the now and not yet complete end to sin and death and brokenness and first starting with turning over human hearts…
- People were out to get him from the start – King Herod had lots of babies killed in Bethlehem to try and wipe out this King who was born. It’s worth you paying attention that before he was born wise men were seeking him to go worship him (probably Persians I should add, it took them awhile to get there, on foot or camels and all). Kings wanted to kill him. 2000 years later He is still not forgotten whether it’s our worship of Him or being taken as a slang swear word. The drama surrounding this guy started before he was born, continued through his short life and continues thousands of years later. All of that should make us pay attention and ask the question.. who IS He?
- If we ask the question who is He.. depending on the answer you must then ask… what does this have to do with me? Your shortcut is this: Everything. What he offers you and I as well… is everything.
The world is not as it should be. You know that. I know that. God promised at the beginning of the brokenness, when it all came undone from it’s goodness, as the world fell into destruction and decay, into violence, anarchy to God’s rule as King, that he would someday free the world through the seed of a woman who would crush the head of the one who brought destruction. A long time later a dude Isaiah records that the “virgin would be with child and would have a son and his name would be Immanuel” (which means God with us). (Genesis 3, Isaiah 7:14)
All of humanity lives in the gene pool of Adam..like Adam we have all fallen. We are all broken. Stuck. A slave to our brokenness and cravings. We don’t live as we were created to live: in perfect harmony with God our creator. There are these two genealogies which I always found really boring to read as a kid at the beginning of Matthew’s gospel and Luke’s gospel. Now I know they were put there on purpose and they matter. They tie Jesus back to Abraham and to Adam: important people who lived a long time ago, but also broken people who were like us, sinful, fallen, and whom the Saviour was predicted would come through their lineage. He was raised adopted by Joseph, born of Mary: they both had the right lineage to fulfill the predictions of where this Saviour, Messiah would come from. But also as the angels told Mary, she, a virgin, a real one, would have a baby, not a baby brought there the normal way but one put in her womb by God’s Spirit. Kinda like the first IVF baby. It was an interruption to sin’s beginnings. God became a man: God with us. The genealogies help us see that. They want to make sure the readers know that Jesus had the right lineage. He was in the line of King David, of the tribe of Judah… more past predictions of this Saviour who was coming.. Yet.. he was not like an ordinary baby born into the same line as all the rest of us… he was coming to trump the first man who fell, to buy the human race out of slavery so we could be given life. 1 Corinthians 15:20-28 The solution to sin and death in the world wasn’t try harder, but God himself was coming to sort us out. In the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus we have hope. New beginnings. The ability to be forgiven. The ability to be changed in a real way. The ability to be set free. The security of being known, loved and in relationship with God himself. The hope of a new changed world coming..
Those are just a few of my ponderings about Jesus this Christmas eve. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!