The Father’s Heart for You this Christmas
Christmas rolls around with almost monotonous regularity doesn’t it? Even the ever more extravagant retail displays hardly raise an eyebrow these days. The thing I really struggle with is the gap … the huge gap between Christmas AD 2011 and Christmas circa AD 33.
That very first Christmas was such a humble affair. And the thing that blows me away about that, is that Jesus is the only human being in all of history, who was able to choose the time, place and circumstances of His birth.
And what does He choose?
He chooses the scandal of illegitimacy, as He was conceived out of wedlock. (I mean, who was ever going to believe that cock-and-bull story from the hapless young Mary when she claimed “The Holy Spirit did it”. Really!)
He chooses an uncomfortable one to two week journey for His parents from Nazareth to Bethlehem for a census. (And whilst I’m obviously unqualified to comment on the physical and emotional realties of the last few weeks of pregnancy, those who’ve been there tell me that a rough, hard journey either walking or riding on the back of a donkey was the last thing they’d have chosen).
He chooses to be born not in a palace, or even a 5 Star hotel, but a draughty stable in the middle of the stench of animal faeces and urine (a few women squirming at that little piece of historical reality no doubt!)
Just imagine as that little baby – Jesus – drew His first breath, the Son of God’s nostrils were filled with the stench of animal excrement.
Not quite the children’s pantomime or the retail extravaganza that we celebrate today is it? Like I said, it’s a huuuuge gap!
So … what does this say about the God who chooses these circumstances for Himself? What does it tell us about the Father’s heart for you and for me, here and now @ Christmas circa AD 2011?
He chose for Himself, the lowest of the low.
And what that whispers into my heart is that He didn’t come just for the successful, the wealthy, the beautiful and the powerful. He lowered Himself so low that I know without a shadow of a doubt that He came for me.
So often in life I’ve felt unworthy of God. That’s because I am. So are you. We aren’t worthy of Him by any stretch of the imagination.
And into that sense of unworthiness, keen to meet us on our own terms so that there’s no missing what He’s on about here, He is born into this world not as Jesus Christ Superstar … but as a child wrapped in rags, who’s only bed was an animal’s feeding trough, covered no doubt in sticky layers of caked on saliva.
As I gaze upon that ‘nativity scene’ again this year, what I hear my God saying to me through it is this: “Berni … I came even for one such as you.”
And as those words ring in my ears, the other thing I can hear is the beat of the Father’s great and mighty heart as He looks down on that humble scene on that first Christmas night. Somehow, I sense the overwhelming joy in His heart, seeing His plan for you and me unfold as His Son – power and glory stripped away – slips quietly, unassumingly …. almost unnoticed (except by his parents, some farm animals, a handful of shepherds and a few ‘wise men’) into this world and lies there in that incredibly unhygienic manger.
And somehow, I sense His pain – knowing the horrible things that His Son would have to suffer so that you and I might one day be as close to our Father, as the Son had been for all eternity.
The amazing grace of creation – the amazing grace that saw you and me created at all – is that in creating us, God always knew that we would turn against Him. And given who He is – the God of justice and of love – He always knew that the only solution that could bring us back to Him, would be the birth, the life, the brutal death and the resurrection of Jesus His Son.
On that first Christmas night – His plan of great joy and great pain entered this world.
On that first Christmas night – the Father’s love for us was on display for all to see; pure and white as the driven snow.
On that first Christmas night – the Father’s heart beat not only for His Son, but for you and me.
For on that first Christmas night – the whole point was that you and I were the ones that Jesus slipped quietly into this world to save.
Christmas is God saying in a language that we can’t help but understand:
I love you. I’ve come to save you.