Give Me the Baby, Not the Man
For many, Christmas is their favorite time of the year. Many "Deck the Halls", sing of the "Silent Night" and proclaim "Joy to the World." Kids can't wait for Christmas morning and, if truth be told, neither can parents! Not withstanding recent controversies, nativity scenes abound, lights are strung and lawns and homes are covered with festive decorations. This season centers around a little baby, born into humble surroundings, but announced with great fanfare! The angel said, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:10,11)." Now there is a message we can grasp on to and embrace! The heavenly host proclaimed, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men! (Luke 2:14)." Sadly, for many this is all they know about the Christ. A sweet, innocent child bringing peace and hope to the world. And after all, who can resist a baby? In this wonderful story we find no call for repentance, no hint of change, no mention of commitment. So, for many, Christmas is a favorite time of the year, even to those who do not profess to be very religious.
Contrast the focus that most place on Christmas to the reality of why Jesus was born into the world. Now, here is where we start losing many who find great pleasure in the Christmas season. Jesus didn't come into this world to be remembered as an infant. In fact, it was some 300 years after His death that His birth began to be celebrated. This is why we, as a congregation, do not incorporate the celebration of Christmas into the work and worship of the church. It is a man-made holiday and one which the Lord never told us to observe. Jesus came to "seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10)." In foretelling His death on the cross Jesus said, "Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour? But for this purpose I came to this hour (John 12:27)." Jesus came to die on the cross and based on His death, burial and resurrection to bring people back to God. "And if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself." (John 12:32) The apostle Paul focused on the Lord's crucifixion when he proclaimed the gospel. "For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2)." After all, "If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile, you are still in your sins! (1 Corinthians 15:17)." Yes, the tender story of our Savior being born in a manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes can easily be embraced. But this, in and of itself, demands nothing of us. Remember, Jesus came preaching "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 4:17). Our hearts are warmed by the story of the birth of Christ, but our souls are humbled at the cross.
I can't help but think that many are demonstrating their "love" for Christmas, but not for the Christ. Just before our Lord was crucified Pilate allowed Jesus to be severely beaten, mocked and spit on. Then he brought Him back out to the people and said "Behold the Man! (John 19:5). Are you of those who seem to say, "No, no, no! Just give me the baby, not the man!"?
By Ben May
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