Written By David Gibb
Rev. Canon David Gibb is currently Vicar of St Andrew’s Leyland in Lancashire, England. He has contributed articles to a new NIV Study Bible, completed a devotional book on the prophet Hosea and is currently writing a book on Revelation. He is married to Claire and they have three daughters.
There was once a farmer who thought that the idea of God becoming a baby was absurd. His wife, however, was the opposite. She was a Christian and put her faith in the baby who was born that first Christmas. But her husband gave her a very hard time, mocking her and making fun of her. “Why would God lower himself to become a human like us?” he said, “It’s such a ridiculous story!”
One Christmas Day, the farmer’s wife went to church; her husband stayed at home. After she left, it began to snow. At first it was just a few flakes. Then the snow came down in torrents, until eventually it developed into a snowstorm. All of a sudden, the farmer heard a loud thump on the window, and then another.
He went outside to see what was happening. There in the field was a flock of geese. They had been migrating, but with this blinding storm had become disorientated and were now stranded on his farm, unable to fly or see their way home.
The farmer wanted to help and give them shelter in his barn for the night. So he opened the door and stood back, hoping they would make their way in. But the geese did not seem to understand. The farmer tried to shoo them in, but they ran in all directions. Then he had an idea. He got some bread and with it made a trail to the barn door—but still they did not understand. Nothing he did could get them into the warmth and the shelter of the barn.
He was very frustrated. “Why don’t they follow me?” he thought. “Can’t they see this is the only place where they can survive? How can I get them to follow me?” It then dawned on him that they would never follow a human. If only he could become like one of them, he thought, then he could explain to them about the barn, and then lead them to safety.
As he pondered on this, he began to see that this was precisely why God became one of us that first Christmas. He didn’t make himself bigger to impress us—He is after all, the biggest and the best. But this big God became small to get to our level. He came to us in the mess of this world, in the mess of our own lives, to lead us to safety, to lead us to Himself.
IT’S ABOUT HOPE
The reason Christmas is so fantastic is that the God who made us did not leave us in our despair. He loves us and He came to bring us hope. The Bible says that “The Word became flesh” (John 1:14). John uses that title (“the Word”) for the little baby in whom all the hopes of the world are found, and it is pregnant with meaning!
This baby perfectly describes God to us, because He’s God. Yet He was also fully human. He was conceived, He became a foetus, and He was born. The One whom the heavens can’t contain was put in an animal feeding trough. He was a child, a teenager, a grown man. He was as real as you and me.
Pause for a moment to think about this. Because if it is true, it is not just “a nice story”—it is the greatest miracle of all.
On 29 July 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to stand on the moon. Then American President Richard Nixon said, “The greatest event in human history occurred when man first put his foot on the moon.” Colonel James Irwin, who was the eighth person to walk on the moon, disagreed. He said, “The most significant achievement of our age is not that man stood on the moon, but that God stood on the earth.”
English poet and writer John Betjeman put it so well in his poem “Christmas”:
And is it true? and is it true?
The most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window’s hue,
A Baby . . . in an ox’s stall?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth, for me?
IT’S A GAME CHANGER
Yes, it is true. The Word really did become flesh that first Christmas, and it makes all the difference. Christmas is a game changer.
Without God we are lost, we are on our own. You know the things you have done, the people you have hurt, the words you wish you had never said. If only we could go back and erase it all—but we can’t.
But Christ came at Christmas to do something about it. He was born as a baby, grew up, and as a young man was executed on a cross. And as He hung there, He wasn’t dying for anything which He had done (He was innocent). He was dying for us, for all our mess, so that God could forgive us and we can be reconnected with the One who loves us. That first Christmas, God—in Jesus—was coming to lead us to safety, to lead us home to Him.
If there was no Christ in Christmas, there would be little hope for us. It would mean we would be on our own in this world—alone in our loneliness, in our mistakes, in our addictions, and in our hopelessness.
But Christ did come that first Christmas, and it makes all the difference in the world. When we get to know Christ, to look at His life and read about Him in the Gospels, everything begins to look different—because He came.
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