All around us we see and hear the images and sounds of the season: Christmas trees and bright lights, songs of cheer and of Jesus the child. Of course, Christmas today can represent a lot of things, including family, food, and football. Along with steaming cups of hot chocolate, we see generosity abound and families welcome time together.
In all of this, the Christmas season reminds us of hope: a time to celebrate the fulfillment of longings we all share.
We all long to be cared for, understood, and known. We want someone to look into our eyes—but even more at our hearts—to see who we are and still deeply love us. We all have backstories. These backstories evoke a yearning that says, “If you only knew this about me.” We long for someone to understand this whole story.
The Christmas story teaches us that God understands our own stories. During this season, we celebrate the coming of our Savior and King. The biblical story unfolds the need for a Savior and the promise of his coming. Prophets foretold his birth for centuries. After years of waiting, Jesus Christ the Messiah—Immanuel—came into the world. God became flesh, incarnate, for us.
In the coming of Christ, we start to learn how deeply God knows us and loves us. The good and the hurt of our backstory can pull us toward the central story of Jesus and the redemption he brings. The coming of Jesus acknowledges our deepest desires, freeing our lives from estrangement from the One we’re created for. God is with us.
What are you waiting for this Christmas? What do you want? Do you seek a Christ who loves unconditionally? One who accepts strangers and welcomes wanderers?
The baby swaddled in a manger two millennia ago embodies hope. But we must look to see it. Just look at the circumstances of his coming—the dirty stable and lowly shepherds with their sheep. In his birth, we see a God who turned people’s expectations completely upside down. He came in humility, through unexpected yet beautiful means, to draw the lowliest and most undeserving among us to himself.
Let’s look at three ways these events surrounding the birth of Jesus show the character and person of God.
God Sees the Heart
If we’re honest, we probably wouldn’t choose a poor, young, inexperienced girl as our own mother. Yet God chose such a mother for Jesus. Likely in her teens, Mary lived in a humble home full of people, parents, siblings and others. Her lifestyle differed vastly from an average girl of the same age today. Imagine Mary spending her days laboring long hours over hot ovens, dirty clothes, and cooking supplies.
All of this raises the question: Why Mary? Of all the girls in the world—and our omniscient God knew each and every one—why this particular one?
To answer that question, we simply look at Luke 1. Notice Mary’s response when the angel Gabriel delivered the good news of God’s plan, that she was about to be with child. Perplexed at first, she asked, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34). After Gabriel explained that this would be the work of God with whom nothing is impossible, Mary agreed, “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).