Some Thoughts On Christmas…
Even for non-Christians (but especially for those raised to attend church regularly), Christmas can become a bit of a routine, a “holy re-run” of a story that we have heard over and over again. It is easy to become complacent with Christmas, to become lazy in digging through it to search for/discover fresh insights (or to polish up the old insights we’ve found before). For pastors especially, it is a challenge (not in a negative sense) to help people look at Christmas with fresh eyes, to help us all remember that we will NEVER exhaust the riches present in ANY of God’s Word but especially in the events of Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter.
As a kid I remember a slogan Kellogg’s had for their famous Corn Flakes cereal: “Taste them again for the first time.” I always liked that phrase, even though as an eight year old I didn’t really understand it! But Kellogg’s knew that many people raised on Corn Flakes would, as adults, walk right by it in the aisle at the grocery store, would choose one of the other cereal options available to them. Kellogg’s knew that many would say to themselves, “I’ve had Corn Flakes before! It doesn’t have any sugar on it! It doesn’t have a catchy mascot/cartoon character! IT’S JUST FLAKES OF CORN!”
Sadly, many of us treat Christmas the same way…we think we know it…we think we’ve seen it before…we think we “get it”…
Here are some thoughts on Christmas, my humble attempt to help us “taste it again for the first time”:
1. Even in the womb Jesus was already drawing people to Himself and making an impact:
A. John the Baptist LEAPT for joy in his mother Elizabeth’s womb merely at the sound of Mary’s voice as she had Jesus in HER womb! (What a reminder to us that through Jesus in US others can leap for joy as we speak, in Jesus’ name, words of grace, encouragement, and truth to them!)
B. The wise man began traveling from a foreign land MANY months before Jesus was born. Some scholars believe that the wise men were the descendants of Babylonian converts to Judaism hundreds of years before while the Jews were in exile in Babylon! Even during our times of discipline God is planting seeds of blessing/goodness!
2. As a baby Jesus attracted people of all walks of life, from wealthy/influential/educated/foreign Magi to lowly (at least in the eyes of the world) shepherds.
3. Just as the star of Bethlehem shined on Jesus and pointed others to Him…so we Christians now are stars pointing others to Jesus through our words and actions! (Philippians 2:14-16 and Matthew 5:14-15).
4. Empathy: If God did not become fully human and experience all of the temptations and trials of this sinful/fallen world, how could He truly empathize with/understand what we endure every day? (Hebrews 4:15)
Though filled with an abundance of unnecessary vulgarities, one of my favorite books is “Gates of Fire” by Steven Pressfield, a powerful novel of historical fiction that describes the epic battle of Thermopylae where 300 Spartan soldiers held nearly 1 million Persian soldiers at bay giving the rest of Greece precious time to unite. In this book, one of the characters makes the following statement, “He declared that in all other questions one may look for wisdom to the gods. ‘But not in matters of courage. What have the immortals to teach us? They cannot die. Their spirits are not housed, as ours, in this.’ Here he indicated the body, the flesh. ‘The factory of fear’” (“Gates of Fire’–Steven Pressfield, p. 232).
Nevertheless, since through Jesus God became human and experienced ALL of our temptations without Himself sinning, God truly can say that He completely understands the daily struggles we face in a sinful, fallen, and broken world. THAT’S Christmas…
5. Christmas Was VERY COSTLY For The Trinity
Let’s spend a little time thinking about the implications of God becoming human from the perspective of the Trinity (this was not just God “changing uniforms” like an athlete traded to another team–the eternal Word of God became fully human [except without sin] while remaining fully God):
A. Jesus left the perfection of heaven—where He was worshiped every moment by angels and was face-to-face with the Father and the Holy Spirit from all eternity;
B. Jesus now would face sore throats, hunger, thirst, tiredness, physical pain, betrayal from loved ones (whom He had created by hand!), etc.;
C. There was no “hope” of Calvary (where Jesus was crucified) NOT happening…Jesus came to earth for one reason, He was born for one purpose: to brutally DIE…and that single mission was always before Him. When you send out your children to school, the park, a friend’s house, etc., even though technically we know that “anything” could happen to them, we usually believe there is about a 99.9% chance that they will return home safely. Well, when God the Father sent Jesus to earth, though Jesus would eventually return Home to heaven, He would return with deep scars/wounds having suffered unimaginable torture…AND GOD THE FATHER SENT JESUS TO EARTH FULLY KNOWING THAT ALL THIS WOULD HAPPEN TO HIM! Wow. Absolutely staggering…the love of God is mind-blowing;
D. Jesus was Personally tempted to sin by the most powerful creature God had ever created—the devil. We cannot even imagine what that must have been like for Jesus.
E. Jesus experienced our sin-soaked world in a way that we don’t because it is all we’ve ever known. Filthiness is not understood by pigs because it’s all they’ve known…but lock a modern human, used to daily baths and sanitized living, in a pig-pen for thirty-three years and ask them to describe the effect that the mud and feces has on them.
6. As warm/fuzzy as Christmas is, it is inseparably connected to Good Friday–Jesus was born to DIE.
7. Because of the powerful decision made by God to be born as a human that first Christmas, Christmas also demands a powerful decision from each human (there are only two options–yes to receiving Jesus as Savior, or no to receiving Jesus as Savior…choosing not to answer by the end of your earthly life is the same as answering no).
If you want to receive Jesus as your Savior, please talk to Him and say something like this:
“Jesus, I believe that you are God and that you died on the cross and returned back to life to pay the penalty for my sins that I deserve.
By faith I receive You as my Savior–I humbly accept what You did on the cross as my only ticket to heaven, to forgiveness, to eternal life.
I thank You now with words–thank YOU!
Please help me to thank You moving forward with my actions.
If you have questions/still aren’t sure about receiving Christ as Savior, please feel free to contact SoulSpartan at firstname.lastname@example.org. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! 🙂