Christmas is approaching! I love this season…lights, music, movies, concerts, snow, cold, comfort, families gathered, traditions observed, and even the craziness of getting it all done. But my favorite moments are the quiet ones…the times when I look at a manger scene and am struck all over again with the vastness and scope of God’s amazing gift to us.
Creator of the universe, God of all eternity past, full of glory and power lays it all aside and becomes the smallest and most vulnerable of His creation, a human baby. He is completely dependent, unable to do a single thing for Himself even while He retains His divinity. We cannot begin to understand how this works, yet it has always been His plan to come in this way. He had promised a Messiah, and He was expected to come in power to rule and to reign. No one would have dreamed that He would be common, lowly, born to an engaged girl who was probably shunned by all who knew her, born in a dirty stable, and lain in a feed trough.
Can we imagine all of heaven watching, breathless, as He becomes man? The angels cannot contain the good news and rush to tell…who? Not the kings. Not the priests. Not the rich or noteworthy of society. They come to shepherds, the lowest class of people, who are pulling a night shift on a hillside. The shepherds respond with wonder and go to see if this news is true. They bow in worship, believing the miracle, and return to their work praising God.
Mary ponders it all in her heart. How can this all have come to pass? A baby born to a virgin. Joseph knows and believes this with her. The Messiah? Like this? How will they teach God’s own Son? Strangers arrive from their fields and worship this tiny one; how can they know? Will everyone know? Will no one know? Does this little one already know Himself who He is? Feelings of honor, awe, and inadequacy wrestle for their hearts and minds.
Then come the years of growing up. Mary and Joseph watch Him learn, play, become a big brother to His siblings, make friends. They must wonder when and how this will all become clear. He seems so normal, yet there is something more.
Not until He is about 30 years old does He reveal Himself and enter the public awareness. He is perfect, full of the Holy Spirit, without sin of any kind, yet unremarkable in the view of most people. But there is power. He speaks with authority. He heals the sick. He does miracles with water, bread, and fish. He loves the sinners. He challenges the religious. He raises the dead. Is this the Messiah they are looking for? His power is not one that overthrows Rome or sets Israel over the other nations of the world like they expect. His power is love. No one expects that. His power sets captives and slaves free, not from political tyranny, but from the power of sin in their lives even while they remain under outward oppression. His power meets the deepest need of every heart. But that is not what they are looking for. They want the kind of power that overthrows others and puts them on top. They want wealth, position, and honor. This Messiah, this Jesus, tells them to find freedom in putting others before themselves. He says the blessed ones are the poor, those who mourn, the humble, the merciful, the pure, even the insulted. That is not the deliverance the selfish human heart wants. And they crucify Him for it, never realizing that in doing so they complete the very purpose He has come to fulfill. They think they are crucifying a heretic, but He is offering Himself, as He had always intended, as the perfect sacrifice for their sins and for ours. Then that power raises Him from the dead to be our daily portion and live as our Savior forever.
He is certainly not the Messiah Israel had looked for, but He is the perfect Messiah to meet the need of every heart. Rejoice in the manger and miracle of His great grace. And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.
Extra bonus: This is a beautiful quiet little Christmas song that may be new to you. Enjoy!