Have you ever asked yourself why Jesus chose to leave the crowning perfection of excellence to be born into a disordered universe in a remote land called Bethlehem? Think about it. From the throne room itself, Jesus had had a ring-side seat to the world's shenanigans, watching civilization get what it deserved, yet he still loved enough to come to earth to die for the very ones who would end up rejecting him.
I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have made that choice. I'm pretty sure, had I been Jesus, there would have been heel prints grooving a path from the celestial kingdom to this earthly domain. There's no way I would have loved like Jesus did -- enough to interrupt the extraordinary to join this carnage.
Emmanuel. God with us. What was he thinking? He knew no one deserved him, then or now. We were/are all sinners, selfish to the core of our Adamic nature. But here came the Almighty -- "God with skin on," as many commentators say.
I wonder if it was a sad day in Heaven when Jesus said good-bye. Were the angels sullen, or were they excited, oblivious to what lay ahead for the one they served? What conversations led up to his departure? How many private moments did God and he share? Did Jesus have a glimpse of the future when he would beg his Father to "take this cup from me" as his time of crucifixion neared? Was it all outlined for him ahead of time, or were those earthly details God's little secret? Is that even possible, considering the Trinity functions as one?
Surely Jesus realized that even the celebration of his birth would become a mockery of all he stood for, that the simplicity of life he exemplified would become a harried experience of "shop 'til you drop" based not on generosity but on guilt, on keeping up with the Joneses, on keeping credit card companies in business. That Santa would replace the true giver, the One who deserved to lead the parades and have blockbuster movies made about him. That most Christians would celebrate Christmas only to later swear they would do it all differently next year when they would be sure to remember "the reason for the season."
But they wouldn't. They would yawn and ho-hum the Christmas story, unappreciatively forgetting what occurred at Jesus' birth where the unbreakable had become breakable, the omnipotent had become expendable, and the reverent had become irreverent -- certainly proven true some 33 years later.
Hopefully you, readers, and I will not dismiss the miracle that happened over 2,000 years ago, for nothing since has had the impact of this man's life and death. Historian Philip Schaff described the overwhelming influence which Jesus had on history. "This Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander, Caesar, Mohammed, and Napoleon; without science ... he shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of schools, he spoke such words of life as were never spoken before or since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet; without writing a single line, he set more pens in motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art, and songs of praise than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times."
This year, I will read the Christmas story differently. I pray you do the same.
Happy Birthday, Jesus ... Savior and Lord.