Christmas is not celebrated much here in Italy by evangelical Christians, but back in the United States it is a very big holiday. It is the day we set aside to honor the incarnation – God becoming man – so that He could offer Himself up as a sacrificial lamb for our atonement.
To say that it was a remarkable gesture on His part is the biggest understatement one could make!
We know, from Scripture, that Jesus was born to Joseph and Mary in a stable as they were going to Bethlehem to register for the census. Mary, great with Child, went into labor during their time there, which fulfilled many prophecies that the Christ would be from Bethlehem. Because there were so many people in that small village to register, the inn was booked solid and they had no place to go. The innkeeper offered them his stable where he kept his livestock so at least they could get out from under the weather. Desperate to find a place, they accepted the offer and set up a place to sleep. That’s when Jesus decided it was time to enter the world as a man.
We often see nativity scenes throughout our towns, depicting Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, some sheep and cattle, the shepherds, and (mistakenly) the wise men bringing their gifts. But do we ever really think about that scene? Has the sacrifice Jesus made to become a man escaped us? Think about it: Jesus is the Lord of heaven; He left his throne, His glory, and all of the comforts of Heaven, to be born – not in a palace – but in a stable. His bed was not a bed fit for a lowly servant, let alone a king – it was a feeding trough! Have you ever seen a real feeding trough? Cows are not the neatest of eaters! Feeding troughs smell and are covered with saliva, chewed and regurgitated hay, and who knows what. The King of kings was laid to rest in a feeding trough. Normally, when royalty is born, it is announced throughout the world that a new prince is born. Jesus’ birth was announced to lowly shepherds – possibly the lowest job in Israel next to the guy who fed the pigs. There was no fanfare to mark the coming of the Greatest of Kings.
In 2nd Corinthians 8:9, Paul tells us that “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, made Himself poor so that we could become rich. Do I mean that we should all be millionaires if we follow Him? No. Money means nothing in light of eternity. Jesus was made poor by leaving his throne and becoming a man. We have been made rich in the fullness of the Spirit. We have become the children of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. We have been given every spiritual gift needed to live a victorious life here on earth. We may be poor according to the world’s standards but, in Christ, we are truly rich. And that’s not even taking into consideration the blessings awaiting us in Glory.
So, when you see a manger scene, contemplate on what Jesus gave up for us. Think about how he made Himself nothing so that we would have the opportunity to be with Him forever. I heard someone once say that it would be like a person becoming a slug, crawling around in slime, then dying a horrific death so that other slugs could be spared. Would you lay down your life for a slug? That is what Christ did for us. Let’s remember Jesus this Christmas.
Let’s not get caught up in the shopping, the gift-giving, and the decorating and leave no time to spend with the One who made all of this possible for us. The greatest Christmas present you can give your Lord this Christmas is to spend some time with Him.