Journey to Bethlehem
Like the Wise Men of old, we too need to make the journey to Bethlehem. Our destination is to find what they found. What they found was the greatest paradox of all times flagrantly, unapologetically on display: the King of kings, the LORD of lords wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.
If we were to lean over the manger and gather up baby Jesus into our arms, we would put our arms around the One who created what no man can put arms around, the whole universe!
As the Christmas story unfolds, a series of paradoxes unfold before us: Truth is a person whose His name is Jesus. And following the life of Jesus, we learn that the way up is down. What a paradox that the only way for us to go up to heaven was for Jesus to come down to earth!
Webster defines a paradox as; “A statement that seems contradictory yet when you hear it, you know there is something true about it.” Someone once described it this way, “A paradox is a statement that is standing on its head so that you can’t ignore what it means.”
Let us consider what can’t be ignored. The great paradox of Christmas is that the way up is down. “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” Matt 23:12. If we can get our arms around this message, the embrace will be life changing.
What exactly did the wise men of old find lying in a manger? A baby to be sure, but a baby like no other baby. A baby that was 100% human and 100% God. Because of His great love for us, though He never stopped being God, He, by His own choice laid down and relinquished His place in heaven, His prerogatives, His privileges, while remaining 100% God and 100% human. By becoming a baby, Jesus voluntarily renounced all His rights of being God …so He could save us!
“Have this in mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant begin born in the likeness of men. And being formed in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God that Father.” Philippians 2:5-11
Before Christmas, Jesus was… well, simply put, wherever He wanted to be! No boundaries. No restrictions of time or territory. His infinite-ality was poured into a tiny little baby body on earth! Pastor Louis Giglio described earth as, “a spot on a dot”. Ponder the Christmas story, Jesus chose to be confined to a place called Bethlehem even a lowly manger, …yes, that is even smaller than just a speck on the spot of that dot. Amazing!
“Being in the form of a man, to make Himself of no reputation.” Imagine everything confined to nothing. He who was renown made Himself of zero reputation. Now that is a paradox to end all paradoxes!
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, humbled himself and became obedient…even to the death of the Cross. This paradox has just revealed a newsflash to mankind: life is not about us. Our stuff. Our desires. Our wants. Our purposes. Life is about Jesus. “The Son of man came to serve and give His life for many” Mark 10:45. This is the message of Christmas.
In the Christmas story we see how Jesus humbled Himself, and so must we. Humility, however, is so evasive that if we aim for it we will never find it. Instead we journey towards the One who humbled Himself. Phillip Brooks said, “The true way to be humble is not to stoop until you are smaller than yourself, but to stand at your real height against Someone higher who will show you the real smallness of your greatness.” This little baby, born in a stable, was the highest standard of humility.
As we follow the Bright and Morning Star to Bethlehem, the way will be made clear before us; the Truth will be revealed to us; the Life will begin for us. The testimonies of God’s people are not an unconnected series of events from random people, but rather an ever-flowing stream of meaningful connections that are becoming clearer to us, step by step with each passing day.
In reaching our destination, we realize that our journey has only just begun. Christmas was only the beginning of a journey that Jesus made for us. If we want to follow in His footsteps, we must follow Him into the garden where he prayed and continue on until we suffer His view from the cross. We must pass by His empty tomb and watch the sunrise over His glorious Resurrection. From there we see the morning when hope was reborn and life found a new beginning for mankind.
We see that our journey is a series of choices. Choose the broad way, full of worldly glitter and bling, and you will end in disappointment and frustration of soul. Choose the Narrow Way and you will find glorious victories waiting for you and blessings far exceeding every sacrifice. We choose to press on all the days of our life.
Every grace, every blessing, literally every good thing we ever dreamed about either now or in eternity began with the birth of Jesus Christ in a manger. We owe everything to Jesus Christ’s birth, death and resurrection in which He secured, eternal fellowship in Heaven for those who believe and put their trust in Him.
Like the Wise Men of old, we all need to make the journey to Bethlehem. It is the only way to have yourself a very Merry Christmas.