“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
Love. It’s woven throughout the Christmas story.
We see it in Mary’s choice to trust God and carry his Messiah in spite of the accusations and betrayals.
We see it in Joseph’s choice to stay with Mary, even if he had every right to divorce her.
We see it in Zechariah’s joy at having a son.
We see it in Elizabeth’s exclamation that Mary is blessed, the distance the shepherds and Magi traveled to see this God-child, and the trust both Mary and Joseph placed in God to be the earthly parents of the Messiah.
We even see it in the love we experience from others during this season.
But at the very center of the Christmas story, we see it in the love God has for his people.
The God of all creation, this God who holds the universe in the palm of His hand, the God who parted the Red Sea, held the sun in its place for a full day, and made a 90 year old barren woman pregnant, the God who gave a donkey a voice, the God who defeated armies, named the stars and knows the number of hair strands on each of our heads, did something no one was expecting.
He stepped down from His place in heaven.
Disrobed himself of his power and glory.
Took the form of man.
And dwelt among us.
The Israelites weren’t expecting Him to come as a humble king. They weren’t looking for a man of lowly birth. They didn’t want a man of peace who challenged their traditions, pointed out their errors and showed them a new way of living. They wanted a conqueror. A warrior. A Messiah who would come with a legion of warriors and destroy their Roman oppressors.
Instead, they were given God’s Son.
Born of an unwed, teenage mother.
Born into low-class society.
Born on the floor of a barn, in a town that had no room for him, surrounded by animal crap.
He lived as we live. He felt abandonment and rejection. He endured hurts and pains. His family questioned his potential. His friends abandoned him. He never found a woman to marry. He was childless, sometimes friendless and knew what it meant for no one to understand him. He was scorned, mocked and ridiculed. He was labeled a heretic and blasphemer and sinner. He died too young, didn’t get to realize his own dreams, and lived a life many around him would have considered ordinary.
He experienced the worst the world had to offer.
Lived a life of rejection and pain.
Faced every temptation we have or will ever face.
And he did it for us.
God loves us. He loves us in spite of our flaws and failures and mistakes. He loves us in spite of the rejections we face. He loves us no matter what we’ve done or what we will ever do. He loves us for who we are and who we are becoming.
And He proved that love by shedding His glory, stepping out of heaven and being born in a manger.
And so, my brothers and sisters, as we journey towards the manger this year, may you be reminded of the love God has for you. May you see the Christmas story written personally for you. And may you, as you focus on Him more and more this season, find that love begin to transform the way you see yourself.