The comforts of Christ’s birth
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14, ESV)
“Christ’s humiliation consisted in his being born, and that in a low condition, made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross; in being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time.” (Answer to Shorter Catechism Question # 27, Wherein did Christ’s humiliation consist?)
The holiday song tells us “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” For some it is. For others it isn’t. In fact, for many it is the most difficult time of the year. For some it is difficult because in the past year they have suffered heart wrenching or life changing trauma which has turned their lives upside down. For example: A loved one has been tragically lost (I think of the families of those whose young lives were tragically and brutally snuffed out recently in Connecticut). A marriage and family have been broken up through the trauma of divorce. A horrible accident has happened which has left someone permanently disabled. A job has been unexpectedly lost, adding yet another person to the long list of unemployment statistics. A home has been destroyed through a natural disaster, leaving a family homeless and uncertain about their future. And many more examples could be given. For others the holidays are simply depressing, not necessarily because they have experienced a life altering trauma in their lives, but because they find themselves in life circumstances where they feel alone, isolated, or disconnected from family, friends or community. I think of the nursing home resident who never gets a visit, not even from family. Or the single person whose work demands make it nearly impossible to find time to develop meaningful relationships with others outside of the work environment; etc.
Dear reader, if you are one of those for whom the holiday season is “the most difficult time of the year,” I realize that your pain may be deep, and words may seem a hollow comfort. I don’t pretend to be able to fully understand what you may be going through. But nonetheless I would encourage you to read on. Whether or not you think it is true, God understands what you are going through, and His Word is full of comfort for those who are broken. I pray that God would somehow see fit to bring a measure of comfort to your soul through these brief Christmas reflections on the comforts of Christ’s birth.
(1) The birth of Christ shows us that God cares.
God didn’t have to care about a race of creatures who have revolted against Him. He wasn’t obligated to show care or concern to those who had rejected Him. The Bible says that we have all rebelled against our Creator and His holy law (Rom. 3:23). God is holy, and because of our fall in Adam, we are sinful, both by nature and by choice. We violate God’s law every day, by our thoughts, words and deeds; by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. The only thing we deserve to have God send us is His wrath and judgment. He could have abandoned all of us to our freely-chosen sin and rebellion, and thus to His righteous judgment. But instead He sent His Son to save a great multitude of sinners just like us, all who through grace would believe (trust) in Him. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16, ESV) “…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, ESV) “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23, ESV) The birth of Christ is a comfort to believers, because is shows us that God cared for us in our lost condition, and He loved us even while we were unlovely. The birth of Jesus shows us that God has not forgotten us or abandoned us (even though the circumstances we face in our lives may seem to tell us otherwise). Instead, the birth of Jesus shows us that God cares — more deeply and profoundly than we can imagine.
(2) The birth of Christ shows us that God loves.
The birth of Christ can be a source of great comfort for believers because it shows us God’s love in action. His love for us is not a shallow, sentimental, “aw shucks” kind of love. Rather, it is infinitely deep and profoundly self-sacrificing. Believer, God loved you to such an extend and in such a manner that He sent His very own beloved Son, the living “Word” (John 1:1) who had always been with the Father, to be born in circumstances of poverty and shame, to live a life of suffering and servanthood, and to die an unimaginably agonizing death upon the cross in order to redeem us from our sins and secure for us the gift of eternal life. Believer, though you may feel alone, abandoned or unloved this holiday season, the birth of Jesus your Savior shows that God loves you more than you can even begin to imagine. The birth of Jesus is a comfort to believers, because it shows us that God loves us.
(3) The birth of Christ shows that God has come to be with us.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14, ESV). Jesus Christ is called “Immanuel,” which means “God with us” (see Matthew 1:23). When Adam and Eve sinned against God in the Garden of Eden, God drove them out of His Garden Sanctuary and stationed a cherubim to guard the entrance to Eden. Mankind was thrust out of God’s holy presence, and God’s favorable presence no longer dwelt with sinful man. But throughout the history of redemption God was at work to bridge this chasm between God and mankind that had resulted from man’s sin. On Mount Sinai God came down to dwell among His people in cloud and fire. In the wilderness He dwelt in a tent, a tabernacle, His presence being symbolized by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. In the promised land God dwelt in a temple of stone constructed by the mighty King Solomon. But in Jesus Christ our Lord, God has come to dwell in our midst — to be with us — not in a tent or in a temple of stone, but in Person. Jesus Christ is God Incarnate, the God-Man, Immanuel, “God with us.” Jesus is God coming to dwell with us personally. The birth of Jesus is a comfort to believers because it not only shows us that God cares for us and loves us; it also proves that God has not abandoned us. On the contrary, He has come to be with us, both now and forever, for Scripture promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us, whatever our outward circumstances may be.
God cares for us. God loves us. God has come to be with us. These are just a few of the comforts of Christ’s birth. If this holiday season is proving to be “the most difficult time of the year” for you, I pray that the Holy Spirit would see fit to use these biblical truths to bring genuine comfort and healing to your soul. And I pray that someday you will be able to experience this holiday season, not as a difficult and depressing time that you dread, but as “the most wonderful time of the year.”