Christmas is a time of love and giving. Since many of us will be spending special time appreciating our loved ones and giving them gifts, it is fitting for us to also spend time thinking about what Jesus did for us by coming to earth and expressing gratitude to Him.
Some of us can barely stand the thought of becoming poor and/or of losing the respect of other people. Of course, no one should try to become poor, but if the path that God leads us on results in poverty on this earth, we can rejoice that we are still laying up riches in heaven.
It is touching to contemplate the reality that Jesus, Who is God, voluntarily left heaven, and was born as a baby to a poor woman. He was never rich. Most of the religious leaders disliked him. He lived a humble, unselfish life of love and devotion to His Father and loving, devoted service to human beings. Most humbling of all, He was killed by the people He created for sins that He did not commit. Then, Jesus was resurrected, spent a short time ministering again on earth, and then went to heaven where He now intercedes for us as our High Priest. He will soon come again and take those who are in a surrendered and loving relationship with Him to heaven. For a summary of the story of Jesus (from His birth all the way up until His second coming) please check out this blog post.
“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9 (KJV) What unselfish love!
When Jesus came to earth, He truly humbled Himself for our sakes. He came in humble circumstances and lived a life of poverty, so that no one would feel that He could not understand the struggles of a difficult life. Jesus reached out to everyone-both poor and rich and everyone in between.
Since it is the Christmas season, I would like to reflect on the story of the nativity with modern day imagery. In popular culture, the manger scene (or nativity scene) has become kind of romanticized, but I would like to take a break from the romance for a minute and translate the scene into a modern day context.
(Note: One of the of words I used is hyperlinked to its definition. )
Picture yourself in a barn. The barn smells like manure, and horses are contentedly standing in their stalls and maybe nibbling hay. The floor is made of cement and the walls are made of metal. A young woman wearing jeans, a hoodie and sneakers is leaning over a horse trough filled with hay. In this trough lies a young baby, swaddled in some secondhand blankets. A young man, also wearing jeans, a hoodie and sneakers stands by, looking on affectionately.
Some cowboys in the area, who own herds of sheep and several Australian Shepherd dogs, knock on the door. The father, opens it. The cowboys come in to the barn, and after politely greeting the parents, they worship the new baby. Kneeling down in front of the horse trough, cowboy hats in hand, they reverently gaze at the innocent, sleeping newborn. The parents look on quietly, with bewilderment, and in amazement. After what seems like an eternity, the cowboys bid the parents farewell, toss on their hats, and walk out of the barn. Their cowboy boots make elegant clicking sounds on the cement floor as they leave. The door closes and all is silent again.
Later on, when the young family is in a small, simple rented house, a neurosurgeon, a physicist and a chemist, all dressed in suit and tie, drive up in a Ferrari. One of the men is carrying a briefcase. The three men walk to the door of the humble home and knock. Bystanders stare in shock, wondering why these three white collar professionals have come to their humble town in the first place, and especially wondering why they have come to this particular neighborhood and to this particular home. The father sheepishly opens the door and politely welcomes the visitors in. After a polite exchange of greetings between the three visiting men and the father and mother, the three professionals reverently kneel before a Wal-Mart pack’n play and worship. They smile at the young baby inside of it. The parents gaze on in amazement. After a while, the neurosurgeon opens the briefcase and pulls out a shiny wallet. Smiling, he hands it to the father. The father nervously opens it, and his mouth drops open in astonishment as he sees the large sum of money inside. The parents thank the men with all of their hearts and the men smile kindly.
Then, the three men gently stroke the baby’s hair, lightly squeeze His chubby hands, politely bid His parents farewell, and then step out the door. Soon, the neighbors are again silently staring, as the Ferrari leaves their neighborhood. What was that about? They all ask.
When I think about all that Jesus has done, I am touched. I feel foolish for the times when I have compared myself with other people and indulged in jealousy or pride. I choose to live to bless others. I choose to do my best in life, and to always dwell on what I can do to make their lives better. There is rest in doing this.
There is unrest in constantly keeping up with the Joneses and seeking to find out how much we can get for ourselves-not so that we can make ends meet and have more to give to others, but because we want to be glorious and because we want other people to worship us.
I will close with some incredible scripture verses that have deeply touched my heart.
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-11 (KJV)
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” Hebrews 12:2-3 (KJV)
Merry Christmas everyone!