Merry Christmas, dear readers. I pray you have found renewed hope as we’ve celebrated the birth of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. As I write, various piles of Christmas-related items are beckoning, but this post is begging to be written, so the clutter will have to wait as I compose this meditation.
I bet it wouldn’t surprise you to know I read Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth each Christmas Eve (Luke 2:1-20). I’m guessing many of you do as well. No matter how many times I ponder it, I’m overcome by the depiction of that long-ago night. The angel of the Lord declaring the glorious news. Startled shepherds, who nonetheless went immediately to investigate this thing the angel proclaimed. And the Baby in the manger. The second person of the Trinity, a helpless babe, the Word made flesh. How amazing! No wonder a multitude of the heavenly host joined the herald angel, praising and glorifying God!
Now, what if I told you I also read Isaiah 53 each Christmas Eve? Would you think it incongruous, too dark a chapter for such a night of rejoicing? I read it because I want to remember the joyful news of peace on earth came at the price of Jesus’ very life. Take a look at the first six verses:
Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
Jesus knew what it would cost Him, and He came anyway. The Apostle Paul wrote, one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:7).
Having humbled Himself even to the point of death on the cross, Jesus accomplished His mission and returned to the Father’s right hand (Hebrews 10:12). There He sits, interceding for us. And we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:15-16).
Therein lies our hope for today and for eternity. Jesus knows what it’s like to walk this earth, to be acquainted with grief and sorrow, to be tempted. Our compassionate Savior understands. He gave His life that we might draw near to the throne of grace – not in fear, but with confidence – to receive the mercy and grace we so desperately need as we await His return.
Christmas decorations will soon be stored away, piles sorted, boxes and paper recycled. But the greatest gift ever given will never lose its luster or wear out. It’s to be embraced and cherished every day of our lives.
Dear Jesus, Luke wrote that the shepherds returned to their flocks glorifying and praising God after they’d seen You. They found everything just as the angel had told them. Thank You that we too will find every one of Your promises and proclamations to be true. Thank You for giving Your life to make it so.