In the early 19th century, a war-weary world was anxiously watching the march of Napoleon. But during that time, obscure, seemingly insignificant events were occurring that would help to shape the future of this world. In 1809, between the battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo, William E. Gladstone was born in Liverpool; Alfred, Lord Tennyson in Summersby, England; Oliver Wendell Holmes in Boston; Felix Mendelssohn in Hamburg, Germany, and Abraham Lincoln in Hodgenville, Kentucky. Now, over 200 years later, is there the slightest doubt about the greater contribution to history … those battles or those babies? So it was with the birth of Jesus Christ. The Bethlehem crowd was all concerned about a census and the power of Rome.
They had no inkling that the infinite infant Son of God was asleep in their little town. Only a few shepherds hurried to see Him who was born in a stable. And as they left, they glorified God. We can get so caught up in the commercial busyness of the Christmas season that we overlook how great a gift this little Babe really was. Only when we remember that His sacrificial death for our sins and His resurrection from the grave were His destiny do we recognize His value to the human race? Then we can exclaim, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”
Further thoughts: With only 15 days left before Christmas, I thought it appropriate to get you in the right spirit for this Christmas season. As you know there are countless people who believe in Santa Claus. Back in 1996 according to a poll taken by KRC Research, nine percent of American adults say they really do believe in the jolly old North Pole resident. I wonder what percent it would be today, 17 years later. That percentage isn’t surprising when we realize that at no other time of the year do we focus so much attention on a single theme as during the Christmas season.
The fictional character of Santa Claus has become an integral part of the celebration in our culture because he symbolizes gift-giving, the centerpiece of most holiday gatherings. What many people believe in at Christmas is the spirit of giving. As admirable as that spirit may be, there is something much more grand and life-changing to believe in. At Christmas we need to focus on truths like these:
(1) The prophecies of Jesus’ birth (Isaiah 7:14; 9:1-7)
(2) The miracle of Jesus’ conception (Matthew 1:18)
(3) The perfection of the holy Christ-child (Luke 1:35)
(4) The mission of that baby boy (Matthew 1:21)
The Creator of the world miraculously became a man on that Christmas morning so He could provide us with the gift of eternal life. Thus, because the Lord Jesus, God’s Son, became a man, He can identify with our trials and temptations. He understands the heartaches, pain, and difficulties we face. Since “He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).
And because He was without sin (Hebrews 4:15), He was able to die in our place as the perfect sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 2:14-17). During this upcoming busy Christmas season, let’s take time to remember in awe and wonder what Jesus Christ did for us. He was born that we might be rescued from eternal death! To make Christmas complete this year, “Celebrate the baby, but trust in the Savior.”
The best gift in the world was wrapped in a manger.