Every child who celebrates Christmas anticipates what gift he or she is going to get. When they see the wrapped presents under the tree, they try to evaluate what they are based on size, weight and sound. Often, children are given to wild speculations. Sometimes, they’re right.
Children aren’t the only ones who let their imaginations run away with them. Even adults anticipate, evaluate, and guess about how things are or will be (the gambling industry is betting on it).
It’s not just sports teams or horses that we speculate about. We also speculate about God. It’s easy to do since the word God is so often heard and seems so generic. He’s a warm and cozy grandpa; He’s a strict authoritarian dictator; He’s a tender-hearted but impotent deity who needs you to save the world.
The birth of Jesus ends all of this. Jesus’ birth is the death of speculation. He is the God who has come to seek and save the lost. He is the God who has come to defeat the devil, sin and death. He is the God who loves the little children, opposing the sin of infanticide (read; abortion). He is the God who has established His church (of which He is the chief cornerstone) to provide feeding, healing, and safety through the means of Grace.
And, He didn’t come on a “Glory Cloud”, but was born in the worst kind of conditions. Animals surrounded Him, fecal matter was within arm’s length, and He laid in germ-infested hay. In short, He was born into conditions more unsanitary than any restaurant closed by the health department.
What a letdown! I mean, don’t we want a Glorious God??!! Some bright beacon to point others to and they stand in awe of Our Creator? Instead, we get a kid who has slipped through the cracks of the health care system, and was even rejected by the Holiday Inn.
So, we say to ourselves (very quietly, of course, using our “inside the sanctuary voices”), “God screwed up!” I can’t point people to this! It’s humiliating. What happened to the All-Powerful God of the Old Testament, full of wrath?”
Our expectations for a wonderful Christmas gift have been so diminished by this presentation that we even upgrade the nativity scenes to seem more idyllic. The shepherds and wise men at the first nativity probably thought, “This is pathetic!”
No, God is not the God you want. He has come to kill … your expectations. Humble, meek, lowly, impoverished, pitiful child, how can you be God. Our reason is broken at this point. And thank God it is! God’s foolishness is greater than man’s wisdom. His Word is confirmed in the birth of this hidden Messiah.
And, Jesus has come to seek and save the lost. He has come to save the speculators like you and me. He has come to end our speculative hopes, by giving us a new hope. He has done this by establishing a new covenant that lets the gentiles come back to God’s table. This is the covenant that was established by the brutal sacrifice of Jesus, who grew from lowliness and was executed in obscurity.
But, my brothers and sisters, this death was the birth of hope. He ended the terrible dicatorship of sin, death, and the lowly snake, the devil. He did this for you. He did this for your justification, for your healing, for your salvation, for your resurrection. And, He did this for you so that you will forever know the God who saves, Jesus Christ.
Merry Christmas and Amen