Have you ever wondered why all the fuss was made at Christmas? The first Christmas I mean – the one where Mary gave birth to Jesus, stable, wise men, shepherds, inn keepers – you know the one – don’t you?
Why were the shepherds let in on the secret? Why did the magi (wise men) turn up? and What’s with all those angels?
Now don’t get me wrong I know there are plenty of reasons for all these things and I’ve heard lots of people give very valid reasons. or example I have heard it said that being a shepherd was considered one of the lowest occupations you could have and to be on the night shift was the lowest type of shepherd. Thus, it is said, God was associating his Son with the outcast from the very beginning.
I’ve also heard that the magi were considered to be the wisest of their generation and by inviting them, God was signifying the wisdom of His son. Their gifts apparently signify the wealth of a king (Gold) right through to the embalming fluid used for corpses.
Apparently everything has a reason. But recently I had a different look at this sort of event, one from the inside as it were.
My wife, Claire, gave birth to our first child, a son ( Ethan ) a few weeks back. Now I’m not saying his birth is equivalent to Jesus’ in terms of it’s affect on the world but I would like to draw on my experience at the time to make a few comparisons.
I was present throughout the long and painful labour my wife endured, I was there holding her hand when Ethan was delivered. Some one once said to me that they couldn’t see why any man would want to be present at a birth on the basis that he could not bear to see his beloved wife go through such pain. Whilst I appreciate what they were saying, to this I would say that there is no way I would have let Claire go through such an ordeal without me. I promised to be with her all the time when we married.
God is the same. He promised to be with us always and when the world was receiving his Son, he was there, still running the world. I don’t know for sure but it may have crossed Mary & Joseph’s mind that if God was with them in the form of a baby, who was going to look after the earth? The angels, the shepherds, the magi were perhaps all ways of God saying – I’m still here even though I’m there as well.Also, thinking about it, the birth of Jesus was God delivering on His promise to be with us.
When Ethan was born the I loved him – still do – he had done nothing to deserve this love but I felt the need to show it to him, so I kissed him. If I could have rushed out and bought him something I would of.
God loves his Son. When the Magi turned up with their gifts and the shepherd with their sheep is it just possible that amongst all the significance of the type of gift was the fact that the Father was showing his love for his Son?
For two hours after Ethan was born I remained with Claire, I was unable to get out of the hospital to tell anyone and whilst I loved being there I also was busting a gut to tell somebody! I one point I saw somebody in the car park through the window. It was all I could do to stop myself throwing it open and shouting to the stranger – “Hey! – we’ve just had a baby!”
God was doing the same with the angelic host. He was so proud of his Sons birth – with the additional things that meant – that he arranged a choir of angel to sing about it. If I could have laid on a choir and an item on the ten o’clock news I would have. Perhaps the reason God laid on the angels was simply because he could? Later on in Jesus life there are two episodes where God cannot contain himself and simply bursts out with statements of love about his Son.
There are many reasons given for the events at Christmas, I’m sure they are all valid but sometimes I wonder if they aren’t all a bit cryptic. I think we can’t overlook the fact that when Jesus was born, God was ecstatic, not just because of what it meant for the world but also because it was his Son being born.
Doesn’t it also give us a glimpse of the Father we have. This is not some stand off – shake hands type Father, this is a genuine-overjoyed-with-his-kids-Dad! I’m not for a second taking away any of the need for reverence and holiness needed to approach God but I think that one reason Jesus came was to show us that God is not just God – he wants to be Dad as well. The first is about who he is, the second is about how he wants us to relate with him.