Christmas is Better Than a Hallmark Card

We live in a hallmark card culture in which we overly sentimentalize the account of Jesus’ birth and soften some of the harsh realities of his entrance into this world. The shrieking cry of the mother Mary in the anguish of her labor, or the filthy smell of manure of that stable gets lost in our rose tented glasses. The birth of Jesus doesn’t really fit into the traditional Christmas-card vision we’ve created. The story of Jesus birth is scandalous which features a young teenage girl who becomes the gossip of the town when she gets pregnant out of wedlock. Its a tale of a couple forced by the imperial hand and a reminder of oppressive rule as they are forced to return to Bethlehem for the census. Its a lonely event as the lone couple gives birth in a stable many miles from their home in Nazareth.

The Christmas story is not a sentimentalized myth, but an actual historic account. It is grimy, noisy, smelly, and messy. And it is in this situation that God sends his son. It is in the brokenness of reality that God sends His son into the world to put on flesh and dwell among us. It is at Christmas the second member of the trinity cast off the glories of heaven and stripped himself of his divine privilege to enter into the most humblest of circumstances. It at this moment that the King arrives, not in a palace of gold, but in a barn of hay. It is this real world that God sends his rescuer and announcing his arrival, not to aristocratic celebrities, but to outcasted poverty-stricken shepherds. It is in this estate that we find the arrival of a son of God and it reminds us that Jesus is a savior who made himself nothing so that we could receive everything. The incarnation of the son is of the greatest humiliation and yet a poignant reminder that God seeks to bring hope to the hopeless, healing to the diseased, and mending to the broken hearted. It is in the incarnation of God that God becomes a man entering the darkness of the world to be its only light.

May our modern, cleaned-up, picture-perfect fantasy of the Christmas story be replaced by a modern, real, authentic account of a God who by grace enters the heartache of a broken world. In our sorrows may we rejoice that God has sent the man of sorrows, stricken with grief to be the savior we need. For Jesus was a baby born to die. The babe Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes would one day be wrapped in blood-stained burial cloths. As the mother Mary wept with joy over the arrival of her new son so too she would weep over his crucified body. Christmas must always be celebrated in light of Easter, for it is through the death of the son that life is given. Through the defeat of Jesus, our victory was purchased. Just as Mary wept over her sons birth and death so too she wept with joy in seeing her son’s resurrection.

The great glory of Christmas is this: The true king has arrived. The suffering servant is the resurrected King! Just as Jesus died, he was also raised! This broken world will one day be mended under the reign and rule of a divine and human king. The first advent must always usher us into longing expectation for the second. For just as the son of God entered into this world the first time, so too will he enter it a second. Though this time he will not come in a manger, but come riding on a white horse. It is then at Christ’s return that the tears and sorrows of this life will be wiped away as Jesus our Lord extends his righteous rule to the ends of the earth. Come Lord Jesus!