With the time of Christmas focusing mainly on blessings and our own “warm feelings” (not to even mention the commercialization that doesn’t have anything to do with the the real meaning of the birth of our Lord), I ask myself: “Did the Lord come so that we may celebrate his birth?”
Many Christians celebrate Christmas as if the real meaning of the Lord’s first coming were wrapped with a pretty glow, something that is glamorous in human terms. But let’s not forget that our Lord’s first coming to the earth is a result of His humbling Himself and totally emptying Himself. He didn’t come for a different purpose other than dying on purpose for our sake. His life was not accidentally and tragically ended by dying on the Cross; rather, He came on purpose so that He may die on the Cross for the salvation of you and me.
If you brush aside the artificially religious imagination and enter into the reality, there is nothing pretty nor glorious in human eyes about being born in a manger. A manager is not only a humble but in fact a filthy place. Nice painting-like settings of the Lord’s birth in demonstrations in churches do not change that fact.
Mary, the human mother of our Lord, “treasured these things (Jesus’ birth) in her heart.” She treasured these things for more than thirty years and only came to fully understand them when she saw the Lord die on the Cross.
Same with us. We may never understand the meaning of Lord’s birth until we start to understand His death. We treasure and are thankful for the birth of the Lord because it is a preparation for His death and subsequent resurrection, not because the birth itself.
This is why I believe those jolly church postings “Happy Birthday Jesus!” totally miss the point. People fail to see the distinction between the birth of a human being and the birth of our Lord Jesus.
For us the ordinary human being, the birth is the biggest gift bestowed up an individual when the person is born, and that is the background why we happily chant over one’s birthday by singing “happy birthday!”
But the birth of our Lord Jesus wasn’t a gift bestowed upon him as if he received something great which he didn’t own. The birth in a human form was the second biggest humiliation (just below his death itself) the Son of God willingly took upon himself for our sake.
Let’s hear what the Scripture says. Philippines 2.6-8: “who [Jesus], being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself 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.”
The birth of Jesus is his humility, in preparation of his ultimate humility which is death on the cross. If we celebrate, we can only celebrate with thanksgiving in a properly understood context.
It is the resurrection of the Lord and the resurrection life in us that we celebrate, and the only way that leads us to the resurrection life is through our own death with our Lord.
The Lord never commanded us to remember his birth (not that the Lord’s birth is not important). He only commanded us to remember his death.
Do you remember His death in and with your daily life?