For many in the West, the Christmas season is a tradition. It is a time where people gather for big celebration of family reunion, gifts and feasting much like the way many Chinese in Asia welcome the Lunar New Year. However in the midst of such excitement, nostalgia and a kaleidoscope of sights and sounds, it is easy to forget what is Christmas all about.
We too need to ask ourselves, “What’s Christmas all about? Why did Jesus come?” Philip Yancey wrote, “After reading the birth stories once more, I ask myself, ‘If Jesus came to reveal God to us, then what do I learn about God from the first Christmas?’” I believe the most important thing we learn about God from the first Christmas is love. The Apostle John puts it this way, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but hath everlasting life.” (Jn. 3:16)
In chapter 13:1, he continues, “… when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.” This verse could be translated, “having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love,” or, literally, “He loved them all the way.” Yes, Jesus loved us all the way! Have you ever thought that Jesus could have quit loving at any place throughout his life? He loved people, healing them and helping them. He received very little in return. Jesus could have said, “If that’s the way they are, I’m out of here! I’m going back to heaven.” But He didn’t. He kept going – denying himself and serving others.
One day he bore a cross up a hill, laid himself on it, spread his arms and said, “I love you this much.” This is the greatest proof and pattern of divine love. At the cross, every drop of blood that fell from the body of Jesus said, “I love you; I love you; I love you.”
During this Christmas season, let us not be caught up with the excitement of the sights, sounds and Santa Claus! Rather, let us ask ourselves, “Could it be true, this Bethlehem story of a Creator descending to be born on one small planet? If so, it is a story like no other. Little wonder a choir of angels broke out in spontaneous song, disturbing not only a few shepherds but the entire universe.” Yes, this story is the greatest love story the world has ever known. It is the greatest story that the world still needs to hear.
Rev. Mark Tay