On Christmas day, the world will collectively celebrate one life that has changed the course of history. Wherever your faith is, it is undeniable that the birth of Jesus Christ has marked the world in such a way we cannot dismiss it. There is probably no other day that has as much expectation as December 25th with so many families preparing for that morning of great expectations. In the Gospel of Luke Chapter 2:6, the birth happens and the arrival brings about promise, peace and praise. Yet the promise would come through this child’s one solitary life.
In a sermon preached by Dr. James Alan Francis called “One Solitary Life,” Dr. Francis gives us a perspective that shows us the measure of the life of Christ:
Here is a man who was born in an obscure village,
the child of a peasant woman.
He grew up in another village.
He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty.
Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.
He never owned a home. He never wrote a book.
He never held an office.
He never had a family.
He never went to college.
He never put His foot inside a big city.
He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born.
He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness.
He had no credentials but Himself…
While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him.
His friends ran away.
One of them denied Him.
He was turned over to His enemies.
He went through the mockery of a trial.
He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves.
While He was dying His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth – His coat.
When He was dead,
He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.
Nineteen long centuries have come and gone, and today, He is a centerpiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress. I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that were ever built, and all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon the earth as powerfully as has this one solitary life.
So how are we to respond to this arrival? What do we offer? This child who is God is not asking to barter with him. God doesn’t want you make excuses. Your best offering to him is a plea. There are times in life when everything you have to offer is nothing compared to what you are asking to receive. What could a man offer in exchange for this child’s life?
What can we give so we can receive salvation? So there are no games. No haggling. No masks. Just ask for help to believe. And Jesus, who loves the honest and pleading heart, is giving himself to you by entry into humanity. Let’s not forget this as we gather for Christmas. Pray that sense of wonder won’t ever escape from us.
This past Sunday’s sermon I urged us to consider the purpose of Christmas as a day not only about the promise of peace but the person of peace. This is a day for us to remember that God looked at the world and saw the mess that judgment and fear has done to us. The creator made himself vulnerable to his creation. God became a participant in humanity and this child who had little feet and toes. He had eyelashes, fingernails, hair and within his tiny ribs was a heartbeat. But this child was not simply be adored like so many babies. This child would be on mission to the cross and that heartbeat would stop one day at cross on calvary. This child would have the shadow of the cross before Him…yes, this child who was the divine King entered into the world in a feeding trough (wood), he would be a son to a carpenter (wood) and he lost his glory so we can have glory forever. He lost his peace so we could have peace so we can be a peace to all people. He couldn’t even be born in a decent room so that you can dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Look at this child and what he did for you. Won’t you trust this God who would do that for you… Can you trust Him with your fears? Do you see what the angels said and what the shepherds were praising? To the degree you ponder this and treasure the truth of His arrival, your fears will surprisingly turn to praise. When you see that this child will pursue the cross because in that pursuing of the cross, He will rescue us. That this child’s blood will reconcile to Himself all things…as scripture tells us.
“and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.”
So the purpose of Christmas is a person who made peace through his sacrifice of a solitary life but it is filled with so much significance because of the person and work of Jesus Christ on the cross and his power over death through His resurrection. It is in this resurrection that seals that promise of that child came to be savior of the world but as I often remind myself and others, “the story is not over.” On this side of eternity, Christmas is still a promise. Yes, the Savior has come, and with him peace on earth, but the story is not finished. Yes, there is peace in our hearts, but we long for comprehensive peace in our world. That is the story to come, that there will an eternal peace that will every hint of brokenness will be flooded with full restoration. Poverty will be forgotten as the land will be filled with abundance.
So as you open the gifts and see the smiles that comes from it, remember the greatest present we have is God’s presence to us today and the age to come. When we can see him in full glory.
Arise, shine: for your light has come.
O God, we live as if the light
had never defeated the darkness in the world or in us.
And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
We confess that we ignore the Christ
you sent to be among us, to be in us.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. We’ve kept the birth of your Son confined to the Christmas season and do not yearn for his birth each moment in our waiting hearts. And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.
Lord, you came to us in the fullness of time.
Forgive us for not opening our eyes to your coming.
It’s time that we prepare for your coming.
Let the earth ring with song. Let the light break forth.
Let us all rejoice in the miracle of love.
Let Christ come into the fullness of our time. Amen.
—based on Isaiah 60:1-3
From Worship Sourcebook