by Charles A. Metteer, PhD
It was so plain and simple, yet the night was profoundly holy. Into deep darkness came a great light.
In those days . . . she [Mary] brought forth her firstborn Son. (Luke 2:1, 7; emphasis added)
No frills. No hype. God’s Son had come from heaven without fanfare. Things would now change, big time, and for the good. Welcome, Christ Child! Welcome, long-awaited Messiah!
Yet, how far removed we are from that dirty animal trough that held the swaddled Baby. Indeed . . .
In those days there were no Christmas presents, no holiday gift-giving, no Christmas trees, no Christmas tree ornaments, no glittery Christmas tinsel.
In those days there were no Christmas lights (indoor or outdoor), no outdoor lawn decorations, no life-size nativity scenes on the front lawn, or miniature renditions inside on the coffee table.
In those days there were no late nights for writing Christmas cards or arguing over who gets a card this year, no Christmas cards piled high on the sofa table or strung over the fireplace, no musical Christmas e-cards with snowy nature scenes.
In those days there was no Santa Claus, no “Ho Ho Ho,” no Mrs. Claus, no elfish Santa’s helpers making toys for good children, no reindeer (no Dasher, no Dancer, no Prancer, no Vixen, no Comet, no Cupid, no Donner, no Blitzen), no Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, no sleigh bells, no letters to Santa, no North Pole address, no giant bag of toys in the back of Santa’s sleigh.
In those days there were no Christmas shopping sprees, no Christmas sales, no beautifully decorated store fronts or websites, no Amazon Christmas specials, no Christmas catalogues coming in the mail, no Fed Ex or UPS trucks driving madly about delivering holiday purchases.
In those days there were no Christmas eve or Christmas day church services, no Christmas plays, no Christmas pageants, no Christmas musicals, no Christmas Eve children’s specials with closing photo ops.
In those days there were no Christmas hymns, like “Silent Night,” “Joy to the World,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” or “Away in a Manger”; no Christmas CDs; no Christmas caroling at the mall, hospital, nursing home, or house-to-house in your neighborhood.
In those days there were no Church traditions whatsoever concerning Christmas, no Advent church season, no weekly lighting of Advent candles, no Christmas poinsettias, no Christmas wreaths.
In those days there were no ethnic or cultural Christmas traditions or foods, no families and friends gathered for the Christmas feast, no eggnog topped with nutmeg, no holiday grog, no Christmas candies or candy canes or homemade Christmas cookies, no holiday turkeys or Honey-Baked hams, no Christmas pies, no Christmas fruitcakes (thank goodness), no special Christmas breakfasts, no gingerbread men or gingerbread houses covered with icing and gum drops.
In those days there were no kids joyously scampering from one opened present to the next, no Christmas stockings, no piles of torn Christmas wrapping paper ready to be burned in the fireplace, no pretty Christmas bows or ribbons to save.
In those days there were no red and green decorations all around, no outlandish Christmas sweaters, no flashy Christmas socks, no silly Christmas stocking caps. Amazingly, there was no Christmas attire at all.
In those days there were no Christmas office parties or friendly gatherings, no two-week holiday school breaks or multiple days off from work between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. Actually, there was no holiday season whatsoever.
In those days there were no Christmas ditties, like “Frosty the Snowman,” “Jingle Bells,” or “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”; no Up on the house top click-click-click, down through the chimney with good Saint Nick.
In those days there was no mistletoe, no sugar plums, no partridges in pear trees, no little drummer boys, no yuletide cheer.
In those days there was no pain or bitterness over Christmas’ lost or suffered through, no Ebenezer Scrooge, no Ghost of Christmas Past, no It was the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
In those days there was no Christmas folklore at all, no nostalgic Christmas movies like, It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, Santa Clause I or II, or The Christmas Story; no Christmas television specials like The Grinch That Stole Christmas; no irritatingly repetitious Christmas commercials from Coca-Cola or Budweiser with their beautiful Clydesdale horses.
To put it bluntly, in those days there was no celebration or commercialization of Christmas. There was nothing Christmasy at all! Just veiled, scriptural references to a coming Messiah. Few really expected much of anything that night. Yet, the journey of the promised Seed had ended. The people who walked in darkness and dwelt in the shadow of death, upon them, a great Light began to shine from a lowly manger.
What is this light? Who is this baby? Who lay in that animal trough? What are those days
all about? Samuel, Solomon, psalmists, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah, Malachi, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, and Paul clearly name Him, and in so doing, describe Christmas in its essence—the baby is the Holy One of God, the Holy One of Israel, the High and Lofty One, the excellency of God, God’s chosen one (Isaiah 5:19
; Mark 1:24
This baby boy is the Lord of hosts, the Lord of Lords, the King of kings, the Lord both of the dead and of the living, the Lord of all. He is the King of the Jews, the King of the nations, the King over all the earth, the King of righteousness, the Prince of Peace, the King of peace, the King in His beauty, the King of Glory (Psalm 24:10
; Isaiah 6:5
; Zechariah 14:4
; Matthew 2:2
; Acts 10:36
; Romans 14:9
; Hebrews 7:2
; Revelation 15:3
This humble child is Immanuel, Almighty God. He is the everlasting God, the Son of God, the only begotten of the Father, the great I am
. This long-awaited infant is God of the whole earth, the true God and eternal life, the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, Jehovah-Tsidkenu
(the Lord our Righteousness). He is God’s righteous servant, Judge, and lawgiver (Isaiah 7:14
; Jeremiah 23:6
; John 1:14
; Titus 2:13
; 1 John 5:20
This wiggling Jewish lad will be the firstborn from the dead; the resurrection; the way, the truth, and the life (John 11:25
; Colossians 1:18
Who is this Jewish babe? He is the Branch of the Lord, the Root of David, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Mighty One of Jacob (Isaiah 4:2
; Revelation 5:5
This new-arrival in Bethlehem is the Alpha and the Omega; the First and the Last; Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8
; Revelation 1:8
Who is this swaddled figure? He is Jehovah’s Shepherd, the Shepherd of the sheep, the Shepherd of Israel, the Good Shepherd (who laid down His life), the Great Shepherd (who was brought up from the dead), the Chief Shepherd (who will appear again) (Zechariah 13:7
; John 10:11
; Hebrews 13:20
; 1 Peter 5:4
Who is Mary’s little boy? He is the true vine, the bread of life, the hidden manna, the true food, and the true drink (John 6:33
; Revelation 2:17
Who is this newborn lying in a humble manger? He is the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valleys, the pouch of (fragrant) myrrh, the cluster of (elegant) henna blossoms (Song of Solomon 1:13
Who is this feeble baby? He is the Rock of Ages, the rock that is higher than I, my rock and fortress, the rock of my strength, the rock of my refuge, the rock of habitation, the rock of my salvation, my rock and my Redeemer, the precious cornerstone (2 Samuel 22:47
; Psalm 19:14
; Isaiah 26:4
Can you see Him? He is the great light (who shines in the darkness), the true light (that enlightens every man), the everlasting light, the light of the world, the light of men, the light to the Gentiles, the brightness of His glory, the Bright and Morning Star, the Day Star, the Sun of Righteousness (Isaiah 9:2; 42:6; 60:19; Malachi 4:2; John 1:4; 8:12; Hebrews 1:3; 2 Peter 1:19; Revelation 22:16).
O come and worship Him! Celebrate Christmas at His feet before doing so at the foot of your Christmas tree.
He is our Husband, our Bridegroom, our friend and Maker;
Our Savior, our hope, our beloved and Helper.
He is our peace, mediator, physician, healer,
Intercessor, advocate, refiner, and Redeemer.
Lord, Christ, master, teacher,
King, Shepherd, leader, and keeper;
Resting place, sanctifier, portion, restorer,
All in all, wisdom, Messiah, and Passover.
How can you celebrate Jesus’ humility, divinity, and glory this Christmas?
Want to close out 2020 with a shout of praise to Jesus? Join IHOPKC and ministries from across the earth for the Global Upper Room prayer meeting this New Year’s Eve. Learn more and stream online at ihopkc.org/glo.