SCRIPTURES – Isaiah 52:7-10; Heb. 1:1-12; John 1:1-14
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
What did you get for Christmas? When I was a young boy, my brothers and I would look through catalogues to get ideas for our Christmas lists. I remember one year really wanting the toy 50 cal. machine gun on a tripod stand that was featured in one catalogue. I can picture it right now in my head! It came with a sandbag bunker around it. I could be John Basilone, defending my brothers on the ‘Canal! I really knew nothing of war and its horrors, of course, but romanticized it. (I never got the machine gun, by the way. It was too expensive.)
For a number of years I asked for anything football related: a book on football; or an electric football game; or, just a football. I dreamed of being like Ray Nitschke, the middle linebacker of the GB Packers who was known for his toughness. Oh, to hit like him! Of course, I knew nothing of the toll those hits took on the body and of how so many NFL players suffered later in life.
Christmas is very romanticized. There is certainly much joy, much reason to celebrate and be glad. It is great to express that joy with various traditions, by the giving of gifts, and gathering together with family and friends. But, the true joy of Christ’s birth is only found when you get past the romanticizing and to the essence of God’s gift: the who and the why of Christmas.
Jesus is the who of Christmas, of course. It’s all about Him. And, who is He, the child who at His birth was laid in a manger and sheltered among the animals? He is:
Ø The Creator of the universe (John 1:3; Heb. 1:2).
Ø The almighty Power who upholds the universe (Heb. 1:3).
Ø The eternal revelation and expression of God (John 1:14; Heb. 1:3). As words reveal your thoughts; as light reveals what was unseen in the dark; so Jesus reveals God. To see Him is to see God, and God will not be seen apart from Him!
Your life depends upon Jesus, for He is God. If He does not will and speak life for you, you do not live.
How amazing it is, then, that the One upon whom all life depends comes to us as a helpless infant whose life depends upon the good care of His parents. He from whom life flows, and apart from whom there is no life, now depends for His own life upon the milk that flows from His mother’s breasts! How amazing that He must even be taught how to nurse and take that milk, just as you were taught! What is God saying to us by this great humbling of Himself? Why did He do this?
Isaiah tells us: “to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder.” The government – rule; law; justice; responsibility; protection; safety; peace; and so much more – all of it now depends upon Him.
Oh, it doesn’t seem to depend upon Him, does it? Many governments have come and gone since Jesus was born. Man still rules upon this earth. This is true even in your own life. Who makes your schedule, and your Christmas plans? Who determines where you will live and what you will do? You do! Maybe we are romanticizing when we say that God is ruling our lives, for we are the ones earning the dollars and paying the bills and making the plans. Are you consulting His Scriptures to make sure that you are living in ways and doing things that He calls just? Oh, that it were always so! Too often the government is on our shoulders. We choose to rule ourselves; and find failure and sin.
God came to us in Bethlehem to take the government upon his shoulder. He came to rule. This is Christmas! Now, ruling involves justice. What is good and right is to be commended and promoted. What is wrong and harmful is to be punished and stopped. Jesus takes this upon Himself. And so, He grows up to do what is good and right. He obeys His parents. He keeps the law. He loves God and does only what pleases Him. He goes out of His way to help those in need. This is justice.
He also doesn’t let the bad go unpunished. Ah; but that includes you! If a pretty good and well-behaved boy dreams of holding a machine gun in his hands and using it to blaze away and kill – bad people, of course – and then be honored for this; well, what does this say about our hearts? You can not give the child the gun, or you can take it away; it won’t make much difference. The anger and violence of sin are in our hearts. Justice demands that it be dealt with!
Ah, Christmas. The baby Jesus is born and is laid in the wood of a manger. His life is utterly dependent upon the mercy of others. 33 years later He is laid upon the wood of a cross and nailed to it. He is shown no mercy as He is crucified. If He is just a man, this is a tragic and unjust death and Christmas is just nice traditions and a short break in our regular routines. He is the eternal God, however. His Word tells us:
“He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
He satisfied God’s justice, and He established peace with God for us.
Whether you know it or not, your life here is dependent upon Him. The message of Christmas, of His life – the message behind all of the romanticizing of the season – is that your life after this life, your life in eternity, is also dependent upon Him. And, because He was born for you, and died and rose for you, your life – now and in eternity – is secure! You can be at peace! The government – life now and into eternity – is upon His shoulders.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Rest on Him, your God and Savior, and be at peace. A Merry Christmas to you! In the eternal Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.