Hurray – Christmas is nearly here! It hasn’t really sneaked up on us – we have always known that it’s on the way. You never have to look up the date; it’s fixed, it never varies, and you know that it will always fall on the 25th of December.
Once we have agreed where we will spend it and with whom, it becomes rather predictable in many ways. We can imagine it all with some degree of certainty – and accuracy – as the years have rolled by and we have celebrated so many Christmas’s.
Imagine growing up and hearing stories of Christmas; snow; lights; decorations; presents, parties, turkey; laughter, celebration; a highlight of the year. Imagine you are told that it’s going to be about the coming of God’s anointed Son to earth; the Great King.
Yet you never experience it and you cannot find anyone who ever has. All you have left are the words that you remember being told and a shockingly deep longing for experiencing Christmas and perhaps getting a glimpse of God’s Great King. All you have left is your imagination. How would it be? What would the Great King look like?
Then, after many years, you hear a news bulletin – the Messiah, God’s Great King, has arrived at last! You cannot believe your ears. All these lonely years of longing and now, with no preparation on your part, it has actually happened. Christmas is here – but no-one seems very interested. Then there is news of a painting of the Great King and, excited, you seek it out. You look at the painting and see – a baby in a stable! Another let-down. You would never have imagined that in hundreds of years! Some Great King indeed!
The traditional Christmas carols and readings are probably very well known to you and include the passage from Isaiah Chapter 9 and verses 6 and 7. You can probably recite them from memory:
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upond his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
The Jews in the day were used to those familiar words, but as generations passed, they were left with their imaginations – and also their personal and nationalistic agendas. The last thing they wanted was Isaiah’s baby; they wanted a mighty warrior, a victorious champion to overthrow the Occupying Power. A baby sent by God? Send it back! God’s wisdom – no thank you, we prefer our own!
The tragedy was that the people who knew the prophets and the prophetic words, who read and recited them, were blind to their time of visitation and missed the joy of recognising God’s gift. In spite of Isaiah’s words, the last thing they were expecting was a child, a baby, one whom they saw later as a Carpenter’s son.
As we celebrate the gift of God and remember the Christmas events, we can be caught up in awe of our God who kept his word, fulfilled his promises, and prepared the way for our salvation. As well as celebrating those Christmas events we celebrate the sheer goodness of God towards us, welcoming the gift of a baby as a continuous reminder that our Father, our God, has been generous towards us and faithful in all his ways. He still hears our deepest cries and is kind, generous and merciful towards us, committed to loving us.
A helpless Babe?
We tend to look at the baby Jesus as an extraordinary picture of God making himself vulnerable. But of course, there is both truth and error in this way of looking. God did indeed plan to show that love and sacrifice, giving and being vulnerable, belong together; sides of the same coin. But the truth is that the depth of loving trust that Jesus has for the Father is on display. Whatever life and circumstances look like, whatever a murderous Herod may do, it is God who reigns over all things and has the whole army of heaven at his command. Because of the Father’s commitment to Jesus, the baby was never at risk.
Do you feel that you have areas of vulnerability in your life? Are you pressured by circumstances or by authority? You may be looking at rising inflation, a squeeze on income and bigger bills. COVID-19 and its variants remains a real threat to us all. Maybe you feel you have been treated unjustly and left in an exposed situation with no clear way forward. Fear not! The same Father who was committed to the baby Jesus is likewise committed to you. You are ultimately safe because of your commitment to God and his commitment to you. Weeping may tarry in the night, but joy comes in the morning.
When we see the baby Jesus we see potential.
When we see any baby, we see potential. Who and what might this baby become? We don’t expect that baby to look exactly the same in ten years’ time. It will grow, learn to eat solid food, crawl, walk, run. It will mature, always developing, finding its own self. Finding its place in the world.
It was recorded in Luke 2:52 that Jesus did more than learn. He grew in wisdom; he developed physically; and he increased in favour with God and man.
When we first accept Jesus as our Saviour, Lord, and King, we are like tiny vulnerable babies. Jesus describes it as a new birth and that is exactly what it is like. Although vulnerable we are also full of potential. How tragic if we fail to fulfil our potential, to develop into the maturity that is awaiting us. God’s plan for you and I is that, now the Holy Spirit has opened our eyes to truly recognise, love and serve Jesus, we should be transformed into the likeness of Jesus, one degree at a time. 2 Cor 3:18
This is what maturity means for us.
- We live as though we were designed to be like helpless children who are utterly dependant on Another for our very life. That Other is our heavenly Father.
- Our lives demonstrate our faith that He can be trusted; He is faithful and trustworthy. He is for us, not against us.
- We learn to explore and activate the fruit of the potential that the Holy Spirit has placed within us.
This is Christmas all over again, that Jesus has come by his Spirit to reside in your heart and open up a hitherto unimaginable future for you. This is Christ in you, the hope of glory. You are called into a totally new, supernaturally natural way of life.
Heavenly Father, will you do a new work in my heart regarding the coming of the Great King; Jesus, the Saviour from heaven. I confess that I haven’t always welcomed every moment of the Christmas season. Will you so fill me with the wonder of Christmas, the giving and the birthing of Jesus, that everything else is dwarfed. Will you lead me into fullness of joy as I remember the time of your coming, the reality of your new birth in my life, and the promise that Jesus will come again in full power and manifestation as the Great King of all.
Please take away any dread or tiredness of the coming season and fill me with the energy and life which your Holy Spirit gives so freely. Help my genuine joy to be a real witness to those I encounter across the Christmas season and may I demonstrate by my love for others that Jesus truly is alive forever more.
I ask this in Jesus name. Amen.
As Christmas approaches, I bless you in the name of Jesus, that tiredness and heaviness may be lifted off you. I bless you in his name that the Holy Spirit may overshadow you, bringing release, freedom, peace, and overwhelming joy. I bless you in Jesus’ name that you may recapture the wonder of the Christmas story and that you may be spiritually infectious in your interactions with others. I bless your heart in the name of Jesus that it may be at rest, not distracted, not fretful, not stressed; I bless your heart that it may be soaked in the shepherds’ joy because the Saviour has come. I bless your heart and your imagination today that they may unite with your mind and your spirit in shouting ‘WELCOME’ yet again to the King of kings, the Saviour of the world, the Son of God himself, Jesus Christ.
I bless you in Jesus’ name that you might find his love, joy and peace as though they are born afresh with your personal name on the label, strengthening you and supplying all the energy you need.
Amen – So be it.
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© Roy Godwin 2021