Christmas is an exciting time of year. There are the “big” things like Christmas parties, gifts, a break from school, vacation from work, and time with family and friends that often leave us excited. Certainly there are those for whom the holidays are a painful reminder (see a previous post) of who is not present with them. But, for many, the smell of the Christmas tree, the crackling of the fireplace, and sipping hot cocoa in a dimly lit room with Christmas lights is what many enjoy and anticipate this time of year.
Yet, in the midst of our opportunities to take delight around Christmas, the arrival of Jesus often seems like an afterthought, perhaps even an interruption while enjoying all these good things at Christmas.
In my family, we would read the Christmas story from Luke chapter 2 before we opened gifts. As the story was being read, I would hear something about shepherds, angels, and a baby but my eyes and thoughts were, “What’s in that bag?” or “I think that’s the toy I wanted!” Reading the Christmas story was necessary or a tradition before we could proceed to what I most looked forward to. As we grow older, this might change from guessing the gifts under the tree to setting up the nativity scene, attending the Christmas Eve service, or doing an Advent devotional. All of these are good things and may in fact stimulate our worship at Christmas. Perhaps, though, these become traditions that we must pass through to get to what we most enjoy this time of year (food, presents, family, a break, etc.).
Why is Jesus worth celebrating? In the midst of our opportunities and excitement, why is Jesus worth celebrating? I want us to look at three reasons that serve as reminders for us why Jesus is worth our deepest praise and greatest joy at Christmas. We are going to look at two women in Luke chapter 1. These women and their response to Jesus’ arrival provide a picture of the ideal response of God’s people all year-round but especially at Christmas.
1. In Jesus, we see God’s power displayed.
The Christmas story is pretty familiar to us. An angel appears to Mary and declares that she will be with child (Luke 1:26-38). The only problem is that Mary is a virgin. She is not exactly the ideal or “fertile” spot where you would expect a baby to arrive. Yet, in the midst of this impossible circumstance, the angel reassures Mary, “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). The arrival of Jesus means that what seems impossible is now made possible because of God’s power. Mary responds in her Magnificat of praise that God “has done mighty deeds” and has “scattered those who were proud” and “brought” down rulers (Luke 1:51-53). Only God’s power is able to reverse roles and expectations regardless of one’s social status.
It is not only Mary who experiences God’s power and expresses this but also Elizabeth. She and her husband, Zacharias, are “righteous” and whose lives are marked by “walking blamelessly in all of the commandments” (Luke 1:6). The problem is that they had “no children” and were “advanced in years” or simply they were past their child-bearing years because they were old (Luke 1:7). Yet, it is in the midst of this impossible situation, God sends an angel to make known that Elizabeth will have a son (Luke 1:8-20).
Elizabeth’s response and that of her son’s, who would later be known as John the Baptist, is one of joy-filled praise. When Mary visits Elizabeth, the baby John “leaped in her womb” and Elizabeth bursts forth in praise (Luke 1:41-45). Two women with unlikely pregnancies testifying that God’s power takes the impossible and makes them possible.
Christmas is an opportunity to remind ourselves that God’s power is displayed. Jesus’ birth comes from an unlikely woman and in an impossible situation. And, the one who would be a “forerunner” for Jesus is also born from a barren womb and an unlikely old woman.
Perhaps you find yourself in the midst of an impossible situation. It may be financial with bills piling up and you are uncertain how or where the money is going to come. It may be a relationship that is crumbling and failing with a spouse, a child, parent, or sibling. You may find yourself struggling to overcome a sin and struggle that continues to gnaw away but the situation seems hopeless and impossible.
Christmas reminds us that God takes the impossible and makes it possible because of His power. One of the ways that we acknowledge God’s power is through our prayers. Because it is in our prayers we discover what we truly believe about God.
Our prayers reveal to what extent God’s power is possible.
Our praise reveal to what extend we believe God’s power has arrived.
This Christmas, let us be emboldened to pray for “big” things, even “impossible” things. It doesn’t mean that God will answer them because it may not be His will or in His timing. However, we can be confident, as we read the Christmas story, that God’s power is displayed by taking the impossible and making them possible for His glory.