Read the Christmas story as Matthew tells it:
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
And they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
Only God could have thought of Christmas. Christmas turns our attention from the usual to the unusual, from the ordinary to the extraordinary, from the holiday to the Holy Day: “Unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
Only God could have thought of Christmas. Think of what happened on Christmas: Majesty came to a manger. The King came to a crèche. The Creator became a creature. The Omnipotent came among the impotent. The God who gave us everything “made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”
Only God could have thought of Christmas. Think of His timing. We would have said: “sooner rather than later.” But God was in no hurry. At just the right time He sent His own Son into this world to be its Savior: “When the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law. That we might receive the full rights of sons.”
Only God could have thought of Christmas. Think of how it happened! Had Hollywood choreographed Christmas it would have been filled with pomp and pageantry. There would have been official proclamations and mass celebrations. There would have been trumpeting troubadours and parading politicians.
That may be the world’s way, but that’s not God’s way. God made His own arrangements. Only heaven seemed to be aware of or interested in the events that unfolded on Christmas Evening. Suddenly on a lonely hillside an angelic choir was heard by snoozing shepherds. And just like that the mystery of the ages was revealed: Immanuel -- God was with us. Divinity combined with humanity. Through this tiny Baby God had come. Not in might and majesty, but in humanity and in humility: “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.” So what is it all about? What is the message of Christmas? The heart of the mystery goes to the heart of God, a heart that loved us when we were unlovable: “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. Only God could have thought of Christmas!
Dear Lord, Christmas was Your idea. We never would have thought of it. The whole idea of it would never have been conceived in our simple minds: You came here…among us. And You didn’t just come for a visit. You came to live and then to die. As our Substitute. You came among us as a Baby and did what babies do. Then You grew to be a child and did what children do. As an adult You did what adults do. All the while You did what we couldn’t do – You obeyed Your Father. You walked a perfect path. As our Substitute. Then You did another thing that we couldn’t do – You chose sin, our sin, took it on Your shoulders, and paid a horrible price for it…as our Substitute. You paved a path to heaven for us. And it all started one chilly evening in an innkeeper’s stable in Bethlehem. With straw for a pillow and a feeding trough for Your first bed, You made Your grand entrance onto this planet, unnoticed by anyone but a few shepherds, who received the birth announcement. Wow! We never would have done it that way, but because You did it Your way, we now have the hope of spending all eternity with You at Your side. Bless this Christmas, Lord, as we celebrate Your birth. Remind us that You did it Your way and as a result became the only Way to heaven. Our only Way home. Keep us walking Your way always. Thank You, Lord, for thinking of Christmas. Amen.
Written by: Pastor Timothy Unke
Crean Lutheran High School Campus Pastor, Theology Department Chair, Theology Teacher