Tuesday, December 23, 2008

On Celebrating His Birth....

I sometimes think that Christmas can become overly sentimental….almost to the point of being “syrupy”. We get so focused, at times, at beholding the birth scene…..pointing all of our attention towards a baby in a manger. Now certainly there’s something here that ought to grab our attention and hold captive our imagination, if only for a short time. First of all, there was never before, nor has there been since, a birth like this one. The woman who gave birth was a virgin – indeed, this birth was a physiological impossibility! Furthermore, there has at no other time been a birth that caused an eruption from a multitude of the heavenly hosts! And then (and I say this at the risk of fostering further syrupy sentimentalism) there was the child himself…..God in the flesh. Upon His birth Mary did something that had never been done before: she kissed the face of God. We don’t know all that much about Mary and Joseph….but what must have been going through their heads as they held this infant…..the Messiah….God in the flesh? When they heard his cry, did they consider the fact that this voice spoke and the world came into order? When they felt his breath on their cheek, did they ponder that this is the same breath that breathed into Adam’s nostrils so that he would become a living soul? Certainly, these (as well as many others) are questions worthy of pondering briefly as we gaze upon this scene in Bethlehem. It gives us some grasp of the significance of the whole thing. But this birth, the birth that we celebrate more than any other event in the life of the Christ, is nothing more than an introductory note to the Gospel records. But what an introduction!

In the brief paragraphs given to us in Scripture relating the occasion of Jesus’ birth, there is a great deal of significance in the sheer number of Old Testament prophecies fulfilled. Indeed, this night was the beginning of that to which all the prophets of old pointed. But let us keep in mind this fact…..it was only the beginning. As we read through the New Testament, we find that there just isn’t much time spent in dealing with the Birth of Jesus – amazing as it was. No, there is much more time spent in dealing with His life, His message, His ministry, His death, and His resurrection. As a matter of fact, after His birth we only see Christ for a couple of brief moments prior to his entering public ministry as a man in his 30’s. After this, His birth is only referenced in the sense that it occurred. In Philippians we are told to look at His birth as an example of the extreme humility that exemplified His life…..a humility that we are to try to imitate.

This birth offers a moving and beautiful scene and we ought to look at it and marvel. However, let’s not forget the real story…the fact is that without the death and (more importantly) the Resurrection that occurred less than 40 years later, this scene that we now celebrate would be lost to history….insignificant in its standing. If He were not the Lamb of God here to take away the sins of the world, there would be no star, no heavenly hosts celebrating, and no virgin birth. There would be nothing significant to celebrate. It would have been just another birth – most likely occurring some months later in Nazareth rather than in Bethlehem.

Excuse the rambling nature of this article – bear with me as I get to my point now. While we celebrate this birth of Christ – no doubt the most significant birth in human history – let us keep in mind its true meaning: This is salvation from Heaven. Redemptions plan, put in motion in eternity passed, is coming to fruition. The fulfillment of all prophecy is He Who lies wrapped in that rough crib. His purpose in coming is to show us what perfect godliness and love looks like….to show us the one way to God….to introduce us to an adoption like no other. Let our emotion-filled wonder not be fixated on this tiny babe in a manger, but rather on the life He lived and the death he defeated.

My friends, I urge you to celebrate this season, but not because of the small baby that lies in the manger in a cave in Bethlehem. Rather, because of the path that leads from this cave to the Cross. We celebrate because this birth has marked the beginning of His death, His Resurrection, and our life!

1 comment:

Marty Colborn said...


I always appreciate your insight in Scriptural things.