In the Christmas movie classic, It’s A Wonderful Life, we discover the story of a man named George Bailey. Now George had great plans for his life, but they are sidelined by some events out of his control. He decides, out of love, to remain in his hometown of Bedford Falls. Due to an uncle’s mistake, George finds himself in a difficult situation. In fact, he sees the situation as hopeless and comes to believe that his life has been a waste. George even considers that all would be better had he never been born. It is here in the story where an angel, hoping to earn his wings, is sent from above to show George what a wonderful life he actually has and how he has made other’s lives better through his loving sacrifices. The climax of the story comes when George realizes what a wonderful life He has, is willing to face whatever he must due to a mistake that was not his own. It is here that the love of others, many of the people whom he had helped, lovingly sacrifice to come to his aid. Love leads us to do some wild things to be with those we love.
When my son, Jake, was around 10, we went as a family to one of the largest Malls in the world, Mall of America. Right in the center of the mall is an actual amusement park. I am not a huge mall person, but it is quite a place. We had decided to spend a little time in the park. Jake wanted to go on one of the roller coasters. I am not a big fan of heights and, therefore, not a big fan of rollercoasters, especially with aggressive drops. This rollercoaster he wanted to go on was all about an aggressive drop. My wife, Krista, graciously volunteered to take him on the ride. I was very appreciative. Then, Jake said, “Dad, there is enough space for three people to sit together on the ride, will you go with me!” I think he realized my hesitation, so he added, “please!” Let me make this clear, I had no desire to go on the rollercoaster. But, I did desire to be with my son. So, truly out of love, I did something I feel was a little crazy and went on the rollercoaster. Did I enjoy the rollercoaster? Absolutely not! Did I enjoy being with Jake? Absolutely! Love leads us to do some wild things to be with those we love.
Matthew writes, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way… (Matt 1:18).” Matthew and Luke give us the most complete description of the account. Let me summarize the account for us. About 2000 years ago, God sent an angel to Israel, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to Joseph, a carpenter. The angel told Mary that by the power of the Holy Spirit, she would conceive and give birth to the Messiah, the very Son of God. When Joseph learned that Mary was pregnant, an angel instructed him to marry her. Joseph took her to Bethlehem to register for a census. While there, Mary gave birth to Jesus. She laid him in a manger because there was no room at the inn. Shepherds visited Jesus in Bethlehem. Later, wise men brought gifts to Jesus.
Matthew informs us: “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). This is the first of many references in Matthew to the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, of which there are hundreds about Jesus Christ that He fulfilled perfectly. We are told that the child Mary, conceived and birthed, is “Immanuel,” which means “God with us.” The same God who had revealed Himself in the history of Israel was at work in Jesus. This particular prophecy that was fulfilled is found in the Old Testament book of Isaiah, chapter 7, verse 14. It was written several hundred years before the birth of Christ. Among other things, the prophecy foreshadowed the saving work and presence of God in the person of Jesus, and His presence is still with us (see: Matt 28:20). Here is the simple truth: Christmas, the celebration of Christ, is a celebration of our God loving us so much that He did something wild to be with us.
That first Christmas was all about the culmination of God’s wild plan to be with us. God loves us so much that He came and died for us. He died for our sins on a cross and was resurrected for our salvation. Christmas, Christ’s coming to Earth, born in a stable, is all about God’s love for us. Do I think Jesus enjoyed being born in a stable? No! Do I think He enjoyed the cross? Absolutely not! Do I believe He enjoys being with us? Absolutely!
Not only is Christmas about God’s love that led Him to do a wild thing to be with us, but it also is an example of how we are to “love one another.” If you want to know how to love one another, look at the love that sent Jesus to Earth to live a life of love, and pay the price for all our sins. It’s all about love. Love that says I will do wild things to be with you. The gift of a wonderful life God gives us draws us to Him, and as we grow in Him, we can do nothing less than make Him and His love known! We have been offered such a wonderful life in Christ due to God’s wonderful love for us. This is certainly something worth celebrating, it is worth keeping Christmas.
It is a privilege to serve Christ with each of you. As we keep Christmas, let’s celebrate the gift of our wonderful life found in Christ due to His wonderful love for each of us. Let’s also follow His example and share His love with others in wild ways. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!