12.17.2009

Christmas letter '09: why a Baby?

"In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. ... And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

"And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, 'Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.'" -Luke 2:1-11 (ESV), excerpted 


"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
-Isaiah 9:6 (ESV), roughly 700 years before Jesus' birth

____________________________
This year began with a lot of death. An inordinate amount in my experience. I was at four funerals in the first 2 weeks of 2009. I even sang at two, one of them for a friend. It had me thinking a lot about my own mortality.

But, in a turn of what I like to call "divine irony," the year is ending with a lot of new life. I know several people who are with child. I've been an aunt since I got married, but am now one to a blood relative for the first time thanks to my brother and his wife who are expecting next year.

I admit, I love the Lord's timing in all this since this time of year brings to mind an unusual and remarkable birth, that of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Honestly, it's hard for me to think of Jesus as a baby. To me, babies are small and frail and make me more than a little nervous (though some tell me they're a lot tougher than I think). But I envision Jesus as an adult—strong, mighty, glorious. Someone more wonderful than anything we can imagine. And even with years of Nativity scenes in my head, it's still hard for me to really wrap my brain around that image. The fullness of God as a human baby? And then I, in my boundless curiosity, have to ask, "Why?"

Then I consider what the Apostle Paul wrote, "Therefore, as one trespass (the sin of the first man, Adam) led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness (Jesus' perfect life, including his innocent death) leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's (Adam's) disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's (Jesus') obedience the many will be made righteous." (Romans 5:18-19, ESV)

So a man made an error that a Man had to repair. Intriguing.

Some cards I sent out this year read:
"He came to pay a debt He didn't owe
because we owed a debt we couldn't pay."

And we do owe a debt we can't pay. Every one of us does, because every one of us sins. Whenever we make anything or anyone more important than God, that's sin. It's automatically in our nature, because every baby who's ever been born was born with sin. (If you don't believe it, watch a youngster who's not getting his way. As I like to say, the selfishness comes with the package. Or just ask my mom about me as a kid. Yeah...)

From Romans 5:12, "...sin came into the world through one man (Adam), and death through sin, and so death spread to all men..." (ESV)

So that's true of every person born. All, that is, except one.

This baby Jesus, fully God and fully human, was the only baby born without sin. He was born to live a sinless life none of the rest of us who were born ever could. And He was born to die, to pay that debt for sinners like us.

From Romans 6:23, "...the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (ESV)

All the death I experienced at the start of the year, that's what each of us earns for our sin. But, for those who turn from their sin and believe in Jesus as Lord, He gives eternal life through His own death. We don't earn it. We don't deserve it. But He gives it as a free gift to all who believe. And the greatest miracle was delivered in the smallest package. Praise God.

Imperfect man damaged.
The perfect Man restored.
To pay a debt we cannot pay.
That's why Jesus was born.

 Have a blessed Christmas

1 comment:

Tom Pflederer said...

Sarah, I loved how you put in words what we are experiencing in this the Lord's season of reflecting and celebrating what He has done for us!
Thank you.
Have a very blessed Christ centered Christmas!
Connie