Here’s the meditation I started our Christmas message with. (and below is a vimeo of the full service… Honestly, I still can’t get over the music: the story of Christmas artfully told; some of the most worshipful stuff I’ve ever heard… the rap… turntables… and an original Christmas song by Matt Papa debuting here… The message is about the profound simplicity of what God was trying to tell us at Christmas. The message itself starts about 35 minutes in… But don’t miss the music!)
When you read the accounts of the Christmas story in Luke 2 and Matthew 1–2 a concept that recurs over and over is “wonder;” “amazement.”
One of the things I hope you won’t take for granted this Christmas is the sheer wonder and mystery of this whole thing.
One of the most memorable Christmases I ever had was when I lived overseas among a people who didn’t celebrate Christmas… and just explaining to them the Christmas story… when you get outside of it, and start explaining it to people who don’t know it, you realize how mysterious this whole story is.
- God born as a baby;
- The baby that Mary stared at in the crib was the God who made her;
- He was born so poor and at such a bad time that He had to be born in a barn because there was no room in local hotels; He ended up having to flee for His life because an out of control government was trying to kill Him… yet God was so in control that He appointed a chorus of angels to serenade His birth and a star to guide wise men from thousands of miles away right to his home.
His whole life would be characterized by this kind of paradox:
- He would get hungry; yet, He could feed 5000.
- He would get thirsty; but, He could walk on water.
- He would complain of being tired; but He could heal the sick and raise the dead.
- He would die a criminal’s death, yet He would triumph over death in power.
In that mystery is the story of our salvation. He was born Son of Man and Son of God.
- He was born Son of Man so that He could enter our suffering, share our pain, and bear our sin.
- He was born Son of God because only God could save us.
- As Athanasius, an African theologian said nearly 1700 years ago, said, “He became what we are (sinful human flesh) that He might make us what He is (an eternal son of God).”
Because He was the Son of Man, He’d have nowhere to lay His head; because He was the Son of God, He could give billions shelter beneath His wings (from Tony Evans).
Because He was the Son of Man, He would be betrayed by some of His best friends; because He was the Son of God, He would compel millions to leave everything to follow Him to the farthest corners of the globe.
O come, let us adore Him!
Here’s another mystery: The announcement of His birth was made to shepherds. Of all the people in the world, God sent the angelic messengers to shepherds!
You see, shepherds were the lowest class in Israel. They were considered poor; uneducated; dirty. They were so despised that Jewish law said their testimony wouldn’t even count in court. They were outcasts; they had no future prospects, and no hope. Yet God made the announcement to them. Here’s why: God was declaring that He came not for those who have a proud sense of accomplishment, but for those who have an acute sense of their need.
That means that Christmas has a special message in it for those whose lives are not characterized by joy and triumph. Christmas is not supposed to be the crowing jewel on a life that is filled with happiness. Christmas is a profound message of hope for those whose lives are filled with despair.
- That means for the cancer patient who has found out they are not going into remission, there is something for you of profound hope in the birth of this baby;
- To the one who feels a suffocating sense of despair this year because it is their first Christmas w/o a lost loved one… you’ll look around the table and see an empty place where a loved one used to sit…
- To the one who was devastated this year by a divorce;
- To the one who lost a job and is not sure how things are going to work out this year;
- To the one overwhelmed with regret for bad decisions they have made, and feeling the weight of condemnation before God.
The birth of this baby has a profound message in it for you: God came for you.
And ultimately our reaction is to be the same that the shepherds did: “O, come let us adore Him!”
The Son of God born into the depths of poverty and pain for you, because there was no other way to save you!
Let that same spirit that flooded the hearts of the shepherds and the wise men as they fell down before Him and adored Him wash over you!