As I mentioned in the first installment of The Christmas Chronicles, we’re fans of Christmas around here. We watch the cheesy Hallmark movies, take in the lights and enjoy every moment, any way we can.
In fact, before starting work each day, my first two office tasks are to plug in the revolving Christmas tree and the Walden Woods snow scene created by the stunning Mrs. KirkWalden.com.
Yet with all the frills, we never want to forget why we celebrate. And for me, “the reason for the season” can change—slightly–from year to year.
This year, I consider a Father’s Love. John 3:16—a verse perhaps publicized more than any other—tells us, “For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten son . . .”
And how is God described most often by Jesus? As his father.
In our complex modern theology, we create stories about how Jesus sat up in heaven with God and said, “I’ll go,” and these certainly stir feelings.
But if we read the only two written accounts about how Jesus came into being–Matthew’s and Luke’s–we get a much different picture.
In these two narratives, we see the power of the Most High God overshadowing Mary and miraculously, she conceived a child; the promised messiah who would one day rule the world.
The moment Jesus entered this world was one of stunning wonder. An angel appeared to shepherds and scared those guys half to death before they realized what was happening. Then, more angels appeared, creating a chorus to announce the good news. Is it irreverent of me to say God was excited to tell everyone, “It’s a boy!”?
Simply put, Christmas is the celebration of the day when a father gave the world his son. This father knew his son would face incredible trials and challenges. He knew his son would be celebrated and followed by some; disdained and rejected by others.
He knew his son would face the most direct temptation from the enemy any man has ever faced. He also knew that amidst the miracles, his son’s ministry would be fraught with mocking, scorn, and the threat of persecution.
God knew something else as well; that his son’s life would, one day, end at the hands of false accusers. And on that day, his own son would cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Of course, God knew he would raise his son from the dead. But instead of providing himself with an escape route as he did for Abraham and Isaac, God—as a father—walked a path I cannot come close to comprehending.
When Jesus cried out to his father on the cross, this wasn’t just “prophecy fulfilled,” where Jesus got to check off another item on his To Do List. If that’s all I get from those words, I’ve missed everything. No, this was a son in agony, saying words God knew would come; but words no father wants to hear from his own son.
Yet God loved not only his son, but us as well. He loved us so much he opened the door–through his son–to adopt all of us as sons and daughters. That’s love. A father’s love.
Can I throw out what may be an alternative point of view? I think God–Almighty God, maker of Heaven and Earth–had real feelings when he watched his son go through so much, not only in life but also in his death. I don’t believe this was as simple as God sitting back with a smirk on his face and saying, “Just wait a few days and I’ll show everyone!”
No, I think God–being a father–was saddened beyond anything I can understand when Jesus underwent so much. Think about it; God knew he could fix this, but he also knew the cross was the only way to truly bring reconciliation between us and him.
Call me a heretic, but I believe Jesus was a real son. Jesus was conceived much differently than the rest of us, but he was born into the world just like you and me and he lived a real life; in many ways just like us.
And I believe Jesus had a real father who cheered at times (“This is my son, listen to him!” from Luke 9:35), and experienced deep sadness, too (“Yet not my will, but yours be done” in the Garden of Gethsemane).
As our family celebrates Christmas then, I look forward to ringing in the joy of Jesus’ birthday. But I also want to remember Jesus’ Father, who not only put this plan into motion but chose to go further as a Dad than I can truly comprehend.
Happy Birthday, Jesus. But I don’t want to forget, it’s Father’s Day, too.
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