Christmas Devotion – December 21

One of the joys of Christmas is the experience of surprise. This is why we keep secrets, switch names on presents, surreptitiously exchange gifts, and set our cameras to capture the joy and surprise of opening gifts. Maybe, the joy of Christmas surprises originates in the surprising joy of the historical Christmas story.

The first surprise of Christmas is Christ’s arrival. The eternal Son of God was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of a young Jewish virgin betrothed but not officially married to a carpenter named Joseph. His birth took place in a cave likely attended by more animals than people. The announcement of the birth of the Savior of the world was declared to unnamed sheep herders renown for telling far-fetched stories and later to a group of traveling Magi, probably Zoroastrian priests and astrologers from Persia.

God became incarnate, fully God and fully human to redeem people like us from our sin. Sent from heaven to earth to be among us, not above us. He is Immanuel, God with us, God as us. To cease wonderment in the peerless details of the Christmas story is the cessation of its spiritual joy and power in us.

The second surprise is Christ’s background. He had common name, Jesus, or Joshua. He was born in a cold, coarse cave in small town. After an extraordinary escape from the megalomaniac King Herod and a stay in Egypt as a refugee child, His parents returned and raised Him in the town of Nazareth where He was raised by ordinary earthly parents, Mary and Joseph, in an ordinary Jewish home.

In a world where body-image is an idol and a multi-billion dollar industry, many have imagined Jesus as a strong and handsome man. The only physical picture is what prophecy reveals, “He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him” (Isaiah 53:2).

In a world where money is everything, the financial net worth of Jesus is easily discerned in His own descriptive words, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” The Lord Jesus, sent from heaven, our beautiful Savior, the Craftsman at His Father’s side in creation (Col. 1:16), able to turn water into wine and make a few pieces of bread and fish into a banquet feast, voluntarily chose poverty. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9)

The third surprise of Christ were His followers. John the Baptist, Jesus’ P.R. guy, was a social misfit, a hell and brimstone preacher of righteousness, who ate grasshoppers. His follow-up team was comprised of an impulsive fisherman, two guys whose nicknames were “Sons of Thunder”, a Jewish zealot with a proclivity for violence, a man who betrayed his people to make easy money as a tax-collecting pawn of the Roman government, seven other unimpressive apostles, and other women and men who followed Him. This is the group Jesus called to lead His world-changing Kingdom movement. And the greatest surprise is not the call of the original band of men and women, but the astonishing reality that King Jesus still calls frail, fickle, flawed people like you and me.

The greatest surprise of Christmas is the story. The angel announced the story. “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ, the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). The eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ, conceived in the womb of the virgin teenager, born in Bethlehem, escaped as a refugee to Egypt, raised in Nazareth, and commenced a public ministry in the region of Galilee, was destined for a cross outside the city gates of Jerusalem and raised from the dead for our salvation. The most surprising story in human history is good news of eternal joy for all who believe.

Today, pray we will know and experience the surprising joy of Christ!
“Joy to the world
The Savior Reigns
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and heaven and nature sing.”