For all the glory that comes with Christmas, there’s one more gem I want to treasure: God’s sacrifice.
“Sometimes we sentimentalize Christmas…focusing on the sights, sounds, and smells of Christmas that give us good feelings. Dazzling decorations, fresh baked sugar cookies, poinsettias, family get-togethers, gift shopping, twinkling lights, Christmas carols, cards from friends, tree-cutting expeditions, wrapping presents. Of course, all these Christmas traditions are an expression of common grace, for which we can joyfully thank God… But man-made traditions aren’t the whole story, or even the main story of Christmas, and they fail to solve our deepest problems or fulfill our deepest needs.”
Jesus didn’t come to be a good teacher. He didn’t come to promote universal love. He didn’t come to abolish the law. Jesus was born to die. Good Friday was already waiting in the shadows.
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. Galatians 4:4-5
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
“When I was undone, with no will to return to him,
and no intellect to devise recovery, he came,
God-incarnate, to save me to the uttermost
as man to die my death,
to shed satisfying blood on my behalf,
to work out a perfect righteousness for me.”
Christmas is only the beginning.
Mystery, messiness suffering: does this mean there is no place for Christmas celebration? Not at all. It is because of these gems, not in spite of them, that we can and should burst out in praise:
“O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant…”
“Hail the heav’n born Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness!”
“Joy to the world! the Lord is come.”
…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.
Phillipians 2: 10-11