Here’s what I’ve heard over and again in my spirit over the past few days – “Don’t leave Jesus in the manger.” I’m pretty sure that is the title of many a 3 point Christmas sermon, but I keep hearing it all the same. It’s Christmas, and I love to think about Jesus the baby. About Mary’s courageous obedience. And about Joseph’s patient strength. I love to reflect on God’s perfect plan for each of the character’s in the Christmas story – the star in the sky, the wise men’s knowledge of the hugeness of what was happening, and the His sweet comfort for the shepherd’s through the angel’s words, “Do not be afraid.” God orchestrated it all so perfectly, knowing what each person needed in order to get them to Jesus. Praise Him!
The most amazing part of the story – of God coming down to earth in the form of baby Jesus – is that He grew up. And played with His friends. And learned about Scripture. And experienced temptation. And healed the sick. And told the Pharisees what was up. And ultimately died a terrible death on a cross. And in doing so He set the captives free. And made a way for us to walk and talk and live in freedom with our Father.
Take a look at one of my very favorite stories in the Bible found in Luke 9:36-50 [The Message]. A story that, for me, depicts exactly who Jesus grew into – the big boy Jesus, if you will.
36-39One of the Pharisees asked him over for a meal. He went to the Pharisee’s house and sat down at the dinner table. Just then a woman of the village, the town harlot, having learned that Jesus was a guest in the home of the Pharisee, came with a bottle of very expensive perfume and stood at his feet, weeping, raining tears on his feet. Letting down her hair, she dried his feet, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfume. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man was the prophet I thought he was, he would have known what kind of woman this is who is falling all over him.”
40Jesus said to him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Oh? Tell me.”
41-42″Two men were in debt to a banker. One owed five hundred silver pieces, the other fifty. Neither of them could pay up, and so the banker canceled both debts. Which of the two would be more grateful?”
43-47Simon answered, “I suppose the one who was forgiven the most.”
“That’s right,” said Jesus. Then turning to the woman, but speaking to Simon, he said, “Do you see this woman? I came to your home; you provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on my feet and dried them with her hair. You gave me no greeting, but from the time I arrived she hasn’t quit kissing my feet. You provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. Impressive, isn’t it? She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.”
48Then he spoke to her: “I forgive your sins.”
49That set the dinner guests talking behind his back: “Who does he think he is, forgiving sins!”
50He ignored them and said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
I get emotional every time I read this story. Sweet, sweet Jesus. Who did not stay in the manger. But who saves me (and you) in the middle of all my disgusting-ness. And who sits at the right hand of God Almighty. And is now currently praying for me…for us! (Romans 8:34)
So this Christmas I want to encourage you to reflect on the sweet miracle of Jesus as a baby, yes, but also on the sheer power that radiates from that event…from the start of a life that would change THE world, no doubt, but that is also changing MY world every day.
There are no words.
Merry Christmas – down and dirty real style. Love ya’ll like crazy!