It’s 6:30 a.m. You are nestled under a blanket near the Christmas tree. Your Bible is open. Your hands hug a steaming cup of spiced tea. All is calm. All is bright. You sigh happily and think, Christ was born for this.
It’s 8:30 a.m. You are late for school. Your sister borrowed the shirt you were planning to wear without asking. You and your mom have already gotten into a fight about your plans for after school. You can’t find your homework.
You sigh again, only this time it’s a less-than-happy sigh. You feel your heart course correct and know, Christ was born for this.
A Cross Carved from a Manger
Remember the angels’ words to the shepherds that first Christmas?
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:10–12, emphasis mine).
If Christ’s work had stopped with His incarnation that first Christmas morning, it would have been remarkable but not redemptive. But He didn’t stop there, did He?
I love the joy of the Christmas season, but when we fall for the the lie that Jesus came to deliver twinkly lights and sparkly bows, we miss the point. The wonder of this season is only possible because of the horror of the cross. Yes, Christ was born as a baby, swaddled up tight by His young mother and placed in a manger, but that is only the beginning of the story, not the end. It was fitting for baby Jesus to feel the rough hewn wood of that rustic crib on His tiny back because soon enough He would hang from the splintered wood of the cross.
The wonder of this season is only possible because of the horror of the cross.
Our King didn’t just come to rescue a few. News of His arrival didn’t stop with the shepherds. Jesus came to bring good news to all people. What is the good news? That Jesus was willing to do whatever it took to become our Savior. But what did He save us from?
That is the question we must force our hearts to ask this Christmas season.
Matthew 1:21 says, “She will give birth to a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (emphasis mine).
Christ wasn’t born to deliver us warm fuzzies but to deliver us from sin and death.
Christ Was Born for This
When we set aside our expectations for Norman-Rockwell-like celebrations and perfect families tied up in pretty bows, we see that Christ was born for this:
For our fractured friendships.
For our fights at home.
For our secret sins.
For our relational turmoil.
For our broken systems.
For our overwhelming anxiety.
For our chronic pain.
Christ was not born for tinseled trees but because we are a people walking blindly in the darkness of sin and in desperate need of a Great Light.
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone. . . .
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:2,6).
Our unmet expectations, ungrateful relatives, and post-Christmas blues aren’t signs that we somehow missed the wonder of Christmas. They are ever present reminders of why we need a Savior so desperately.
The Deep Darkness
I’ve spent recent months considering the gap between the Old and New Testaments. For a span of 400 years, God’s prophets stopped prophesying. His priests stopped making sacrifices. His kings stopped leading His people. It was the darkest moment on the entire timeline of history and a stark reminder of the state of the kingdom before Jesus came.
Without Jesus, our lives and hearts are dark, not merry and bright.
Everyone needed a permanent remedy for their sin problem. And we needed to be saved from the spiritual death that sin inevitably leads to. It was a historical picture of a personal problem. Without Jesus, our lives and hearts are dark, not merry and bright.
When things were getting bad in the kingdom, God didn’t just sent a message. He didn’t use couriers to announce a royal edict. He came Himself with a message of hope. He was the message we needed.
[Christ] saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Tim. 1:9–10).
It doesn’t make for a cute Christmas card, but I need the reminder that I’m a sinner. Without “the Light of Men,” we’d all be forced to walk in perpetual darkness. But . . . (here’s that Good News!) Jesus chose to wrap Himself in humility, in weakness, and in humanity to save us. The gospel is what Christmas is really about.
Truly, Christ was born for this.