They’ve been some of the most gripping moments of my life. I’ve watched silently around the world as:
- people bow at the appropriate time before a perceived god who keeps his distance from them and gives them no assurance of eternal life
- people kneel before a god-like statue in their worship place or their homes, often chanting mantras for power and protection
- people lie prostrate in front of gods they hammered out with their own hands and tools, not recognizing the foolishness of the creator worshiping that which was created
- people bend their knee to some symbol of their ancestors, doing whatever it takes to keep those ancestors happy.
Sinners. All of them. Just like I am. And you are. Apart from Christ, sinners trying to come up with some religious means to earn their way to salvation through religions that only enslave. Doing good works that can never be enough. Seeking to climb a ladder to meet gods that don’t exist.
Meanwhile, they so often don’t even know the story of Christmas.
It’s such a different story than they could ever imagine. It’s the story of the one, holy, omnipotent, omnipresent God who came to us when we could not possibly work our way back to Him.
It’s the story of Jesus who took on human flesh, “pitched His tent” among us (John 1:14), walked in our shoes, took the form of a servant, and humbled Himself even to death on our behalf (Phil. 2:6-8).
It’s the story of the Holy Spirit who now takes up residence in us (1 Cor. 3:16).
It’s the story of God who came down the ladder we could never climb.
It’s a radical, unique, almost hard-to-believe story. God came. Not another prophet. Not another earthly king. Not another religious leader. No, it was God who visited us.
And, He came as a baby. Not as a king on a throne, but as an infant in a manger. Not with subjects bowing before Him, but with the stench of animals surrounding Him. Born not to the powerful and the elite, but to a teenage mother who had not been with a man.
It’s a story so incredible that you wonder who made it up – and that’s the point. You can’t make up this kind of story.
No, the God of the Bible wrote the story across eternity, and we get to be a part of it. We rightly kneel today before the baby of Bethlehem.