December 23, 2017
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
Throughout this month, my youth group has been studying the coming of Christ. We spent time talking about why Christ needed to come, and we took a pretty good look at the prophecies the Messiah would have to fulfill. And of course, like most youth groups this time of year, we talked about the birth of the Messiah.
As we were talking about the Nativity, one of the group members asked me why Jesus was born in a manger. He asked why the Son of God was born in a lowly stable… why the Almighty and Wonderful Counselor slept with animals instead of royalty.
I am sure this is what most people at the time of Christ’s birth asked. Here they were expecting a powerful king, one who would rule over all kings as an earthly king does. One who would be triumphant and overthrow their current government with brute force, and lead them away from their oppressors in a joyous march.
Instead, they received a man who appeared to be normal (Isaiah 53:2), a man who was born to a carpenter’s family, a man who was born in a manger.
Today we seem to have a grasp of what power is, well at least how we define it. Power comes from wealth, from influence… it comes from those who have bigger armies or a better education. Power comes from royalty, or by position, and it is weighed by who you know.
But when Jesus was being questioned about marriage, He said something that applies to us all, He told the Sadducees that they did not understand the power of God (Matthew 22:23-30). The power to take nothing, and turn it into something beautiful. The power to take a man who was born to a carpenter, a man who was born in a lowly manger, and use Him to bring freedom to all of God’s people.
I think this verse alone shows the true difference between God’s understanding, and ours. Here they were expecting a king, an earthly man to overthrow a kingdom… instead they received a servant, one who overthrew the power of death, the power of sin. Instead of being freed temporarily by earthly power, we were all freed permanently by God’s power.
This Christmas season, let us remember the true power of Christmas. Not the power that comes from material items, but the power that comes from God. The power to be a humble servant, while being the greatest of all. The power to love someone enough to give everything for them. The power to tend to the sick, and to care for those we do not know. The power to remember that Christmas is about something more, and something greater than ourselves.