Christmas Presence

So it’s only four days til Christmas – woop! If you’re a student like me, it’s almost time to let your revision notes gather a thin coating of dust for a couple of days, shut away your textbooks, and relax with family and friends. But amidst all the frantic last-minute shopping, the terrible cracker jokes, and the leftover sprouts, it’s so important to remember the reason we celebrate Christmas: the birth of Jesus.

We’ve all heard the nativity story loads of times, but that doesn’t make it any less amazing, or any less true. In Luke 2, an angel says to some shepherds:

‘I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.’

Jesus wasn’t some random baby; He is the Son of God, the Saviour who had been foretold for generations, who would eventually die an excruciatingly painful death on the cross and rise again three days later, sacrificing Himself for our sins to allow us to have a close relationship with God. But this passage highlights another important aspect of Jesus’ mission. He didn’t just come to save the privileged minority (kings, presidents, rich entrepeneurs, for example), He came to save everyone – ‘all the people’ – and this is shown through the situation He was born into.

Maybe you think if God was gonna come to Earth He’d be born in a palace or something – that’d be a birth suitable for the King of Kings, right? Well, Jesus didn’t see it that way. He came to save the lost and the broken as well as the elite, so not only did He come into a messed up, sinful world, He was willing to be born in a stable, a spare section of the inn that no-one else wanted, and instead of being placed in a top-of-the-range incubator, He was put in a manger; a feeding trough. Hardly the grand, dignified birth you’d expect, is it? Also, the first people to be told about Jesus’ birth weren’t wealthy or of a high social status; they were ordinary shepherds, living in a field looking after their sheep. God revealed Himself to the everyday folk first, then, showing through actions as well as words that He came to save us all, regardless of our circumstances.

The shepherds’ reaction is great too – instead of just thinking ‘wow that sounds cool, but I don’t think it’s for me’, or ‘I don’t care about this baby, I’m too busy minding my sheep!’, they immediately decide to go to Bethlehem and see Jesus for themselves. A mate from uni pointed out recently that they must have either left their sheep on the hillside, the flock they’ve devoted their lives to protecting and rely on for their livelihood, or they took all their sheep with them, making their journey incredibly difficult. Whichever option they took, they recognised the importance of investigating this amazing claim for themselves, not letting anything hold them back.

So what’s your reaction gonna be this Christmas? Whatever great presents you get, God’s already given you all you could ever need; unconditional love, acceptance, forgiveness, peace, joy, and hope, all of which are available to us because He gave us Himself. Surely that’s worth looking into? Be a shepherd! Happy Christmas 🙂

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