The Birth of Christ

My favorite line in any Christmas carol is the first line in the third verse of “O Come All Ye Faithful,” which, in our modern renditions, reads like this: “Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning.”

I love waking up on Christmas morning and remembering that Christ was born, and that it was indeed a happy morning because of Him. Because of Him, we can have salvation; we can be forgiven; we can know God; we can live forever.

It is impossible to exaggerate the enormity of Christ’s birth, but, in this post, I’ll discuss four aspects of His birth that teach us vital, God-glorifying truth.

First, there is the sheer grace of Christ’s birth itself. Jesus comes to us, instead of the other way around. Romans 3:23 says we have all fallen short of God’s glory; we have all sinned against God. We deserve hell, eternal separation from God and the experience of His wrath, because we have turned against the Creator and spat in His face.

And yet, in His in-explainable, unwarranted, ridiculously good grace, God comes to us. It would have been gracious enough if God had given us a way to save ourselves, to climb our way back to Him. But, aware that the task was impossible for us, God humbles Himself and comes to us. The incarnation of Jesus Christ flips every other religion, every other teaching about God and man’s relationship, about salvation itself, on its head, for only in Christianity do you find a God willing to humble Himself and become a man, to be killed by man, to save man. Instead of calling on us to rectify our situation, God comes to do it Himself. Our God does not call on people to help themselves; our God saves the dead!

There is also the way in which Christ is born. Look at Luke 2 with me. Mary and Joseph are in Bethlehem, about to give birth to Jesus.

“And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”–Luke 2:6-7

Jesus is born in a manger. A manger is where animals feed. It’s certainly not a place any mother would want to place her newborn. But this is what the King of the universe is born into….a disgusting, not-so-royal feeding slab for barn animals.

There’s also the matter of the shepherds who show up a few hours later: Shepherds aren’t exactly in the upper echelon of Jewish society, of any society, for that matter. They were often hired hands, and if you were responsible for putting together a guest list for the birth of the King, you probably wouldn’t list any shepherds. There are no other kings at Jesus’ birth. There are no rich donors or Pharisees. Instead, there’s His parents, some lowly shepherds and barn animals.

What does all this mean? It means that Jesus came to associate with the lowly. While all can be saved by Christ, regardless of socioeconomic status, Jesus comes to those who are outcast and rejected by society because they are, most often, the most aware of their need for grace, and most aware of their unworthiness. As He said, Jesus came to call the sick, not the righteous, to repentance.

So if you are despised and rejected, Jesus came for you. In fact, Jesus Himself was despised and rejected FOR you, Isaiah 53 says. If you feel outcast, like you don’t belong, Jesus came for you. In fact, Jesus was cast outside the camp, killed and buried outside of the city of God so that you could be let in through His merits. Jesus came for those who are undeserving, who are lowly, who are weak. Before God, truly, we all are weak and undeserving. But good news: Christ has come for us!

Jesus also comes from a line of sinners. In the genealogy given in Matthew 1, here’s some highlights from Jesus’ family tree: Jacob, who cheated his brother out of his inheritance; Rahab, a prostitute; David, who used his position as king to force a married woman to sleep with him and then murdered her husband; Solomon, who fell away from God and went after wealth and concubines; Manasseh, who failed to follow his father Hezekiah’s ways and “did evil in the eyes of the Lord,” and the list goes on and on.

Jesus comes from a line of sinners to show that He came not only for the lowly, for those who feel outcast and abandoned, but also for those who have sinned against God and have no way of saving themselves (hint: that’s all of us). Jesus is not afraid to associate with sinners. In keeping with what we discussed with the first point, Jesus comes, not to call man to earn their way back to God, but to be God with us, Emmanuel, and to die in our place and bring us to God, as His dearly beloved children.

Lastly, we also remember that Jesus comes from a royal line. It is a royal line of sinners, but it is a royal line, nevertheless. And if we would celebrate Jesus this Christmas season, we must know Him as Savior and King. We will never follow Jesus perfectly as King, and we will confess our failure to follow Him as King on a daily basis, but we reject everything that keeps us from following this King, trust in His grace to forgive us, grant us His righteousness, and cleanse us from sin as we set out to live a new life of love and obedience to Jesus as the King of our lives.

The birth of Jesus tells us much of God’s character: of His grace, His love, His desire to be with us. I pray we would slow down and remember all that He’s done for us in the birth of Christ.

Lord, may we treasure your birth and not just know of it. May we love the glorious truth that you came for us when we could not come to you. May we rest in your grace, and may we rejoice that you came for lowly, outcast sinners like us. May we follow you as King, and may we model that grace to a world in desperate need of it.

God bless,

Neal E.