As we dive into week 2 and continue exploring the coming of Christ that was thousands of years ago, of course we must read the tale of his birth! I don't know about you but every time I read the account given in Luke 2, it takes me to what Christmas is really all about. I get all the warm feels and a sense of peace comes over me.
“At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.
And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.’
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
’Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.’ When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’
They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.”
— Luke 2:1-20 (NLT)
For thousands of years mankind waited for the coming of Christ; they longed for their King to arrive and free them from oppression. The Bible is full of Scripture pointing directly to the One who would save mankind from their sins. When Isaiah (Isaiah 9) described His coming, he described His coming as an infant. But this child would grow and establish a Kingdom of righteousness forevermore. When we celebrate Christmas, we are celebrating the moment in history when prophecy was fulfilled. God came to be with us.
But it was so much more than a birth. It was hope. It was cause for celebration. Because when Jesus came, he also left us with the gift of salvation. His birth is significant because of His death. For thirty-three years Jesus lived a life free from sin so that He could be the perfect sacrificial lamb for the atonement of our sins. On Calvary, Christ paid the price and overcame death so that we could have victory over sin and condemnation. So, when that precious baby was born and placed in the manger, it wasn’t just another birth. It was the beginning of God’s redemptive plan for humanity. An act He didn’t have to take part in but He chose to out of love.
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
— Philippians 2:5-11 (NIV)
We remember the birth of Christ on Christmas because it’s a celebration of when God entered this world. This very act of humility and his choice to die on the cross is cause for bowed knees and lifted hands. I know the busyness of the season can cause time to fly and before we know it, the holiday has passed and we have forgotten to celebrate why we are celebrating it in the first place. But don’t get sidetracked—get perspective. Choose reverence and give honor where honor is due.
Take time this holiday season to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas by glorifying the One who gave it all. A child was born in humble circumstances and his sacrificial death reflected the same, however, both were significant for humanity. Without the death of Christ, salvation isn’t possible. So without His birth, neither is it possible. Jesus coming to Earth that night changed everything and it’s a moment we should celebrate with all our hearts.
Certainly, enjoy the parties and food and gifts this season, but don’t forget to point your heart, family, and those around you to Christmas' true meaning: Christ came with a plan for our redemption.