Written By Leslie Koh
After spending a number of years in the media, Leslie finally decided to move from working with bad news to good news. He believes in the power of words (especially when they’re funny). He works as an editor in Our Daily Bread Ministries.
No, seriously. Nothing much about Christmas makes sense, when you think about it. Here’s why:
God became . . . a human
Why would God ever want to become a man? Why would a deity with absolute power over the universe want to live as a weak, flawed mortal? Why would He even deign to become like one of us?
Yet that is exactly what Jesus Christ did, when He came down onto earth. Though He was God, He chose to be born as a vulnerable baby, to go through the growing pains of a teenager and learn His earthly father’s trade as a carpenter (this, after having created the universe), and to try to convince His community that He was their savior, and the savior of the world. Why did He bother with such a senseless move? Why not get all this done from heaven, without having to come down to earth as a human?
The answer is, in a word—love. To properly save and redeem man from the punishment that he deserved, Jesus had to become a man himself. Only by becoming human and dying as a human, could His sacrifice be fully accepted, so that anyone who believed in Him could be spared eternal death. That meant that Jesus had to put up with the indignity of being born as a mortal, and living as one. But He did it anyway, because He loved us. That’s the story of Christmas. It doesn’t make a lot of sense—but then, true love never does.
The Son of God was born . . . in a stable
If a prince were to be born today (or in the past, for that matter), where do you think he would be delivered, and what kind of reception would he get? Surely in the best of hospitals, surrounded by the biggest fanfare the proud king could afford. Remember the birth of Prince George to Britain’s Prince William and Princess Kate? What attention that got! Huge crowds stood outside the hospital, waiting to get a glimpse of the royal baby.
Yet Jesus was delivered in a dirty stable surrounded by animals. No adoring crowds, no fanfare. And who did He get as His first visitors? Poor shepherds. That’s like having a royal prince being born in a dirty garage surrounded by cars in various stages of repair, with curious workers popping by for a look-see after work. We’re talking about the birth of the Son of God here. But God Himself saw fit to have His only dear Son born in the humblest of circumstances.
Why? Because, as the Bible reminds us, Jesus is the gentle, humble King who saw it fit to enter Jerusalem not in a golden chariot, but “on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Matthew 21:5). Jesus did not spend His life hobnobbing with the elites and lording it over ordinary folk, as kings tend to do; He came to mix with the poor, the lowly, and the worst sinners. And He is the self-giving Saviour and the Servant King who “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
It’s not quite the fantasy tale one would tell about the Son of God. A great king who arrived in the humblest manner and was more interested in the lowly than the elites? That just isn’t logical.
Jesus was born on earth . . . so that He could die
Look at any parent’s face as he or she looks at their newborn baby, and you’re likely to see pride, joy, and hope for the little one to live long and prosper. The one thing any parent will not want to do is to outlive his or her child. But when God saw His Son being delivered in a manger on Christmas, He knew that this baby’s main purpose in being born was to die one day, and in horrific fashion.
Imagine what it was like for Jesus growing up as a child, learning His father’s trade, and gathering His disciples for training. Instead of the usual hopes for a bright and happy future, all that was waiting for Him was an early death, and the indignity and pain of the cross. But He had no doubts about His own destiny (Mark 8:31), and reminded His disciples of what would inevitably happen.
Today, we celebrate Christmas with nothing but joy and rejoicing. Yet how bittersweet that first Christmas, taking place in a quiet corner of Bethlehem, must have been! It’s kind of ironic, isn’t it? Makes you wonder about what we are actually celebrating on Christmas. But there is a good reason to rejoice, even though that amazing birth 2000 years ago was to lead to an equally amazing death some 30 years later. (Read on.)
For being guilty, we get . . . salvation
It’s easy to remember what Christmas is all about: Jesus the Son of God was born, so that we would be saved. But sometimes we may forget a little detail: we didn’t deserve it in the least. We weren’t innocent victims of evil, awaiting death helplessly and in need of a rescuer. We were guilty; we were deserving of death and already condemned. There was no good reason to save us.
Yet God sent His Son down to earth to save us. In the movies, that would be like sending the majestic hero in, at the expense of his life, to save a boatful of murderers on death row who still don’t think they’ve done anything wrong. Now imagine the hero’s father, having sacrificed his son for undeserving criminals, offer to adopt them as his own sons, so that he can share all he has with them.
It just doesn’t make sense. Yet that’s exactly what happened. God chose to give us salvation when we least deserved it, and not only that, then proceeded to offer us the amazing privilege of being His children (Ephesians 2:4–6). That’s how illogical Christmas is.
It’s Jesus birthday . . . and we get the gifts
Every December, we hold big happy parties to celebrate His birthday—then we give each other gifts. It’s a little bizarre, if you think about it. It makes you wonder, whose birthday party is it?
Ironically, the biggest gift that is being given is not one that the birthday boy should get, but one that the birthday boy himself is giving to us. What’s this present? It’s the amazing gift of salvation: We are spared the punishment of eternal death that we deserve, forgiven for all our wrongdoing, and offered eternal life with Jesus. That’s what we get on His birthday. And it’s a gift that He’s more than happy to give us.
Yep, Christmas just doesn’t make sense . . . Thank goodness it doesn’t!
Click here to view “Editor’s Picks: Top 5 Articles | Giving“