The Christmas season is Nanci’s and my favorite, even in a year—no, especially—in a year that has brought significant trials, including in the last three weeks the bad news about the spread of Nanci’s cancer and the death of our best friends’ thirty year old son.
What better time to celebrate the good news than when you’re dealing with bad news?! Especially when you know the good news will one day and forever triumph over the bad news, so that in the end that has no end no bad news will dull or eclipse the eternal good news! “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us” (CSB, Romans 8:18).
What follows are some great thoughts from Scripture and others about the meaning of Christ’s birth, the first Christmas. Hope this helps you ponder the wonder of Christmas.
To us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. ―Isaiah 9:6
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” ―Matthew 1:18-20
She gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. ―Luke 2:7, NRSV
When the shepherds had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. ―Luke 2:17-20
But when the set time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. ―Galatians 4:4-5
A God who was only holy would not have come down to us in Jesus Christ. He would have simply demanded that we pull ourselves together, that we be moral and holy enough to merit a relationship with him. A deity that was an “all‐accepting God of love” would not have needed to come to Earth either. This God of the modern imagination would have just overlooked sin and evil and embraced us. Neither the God of moralism nor the God of relativism would have bothered with Christmas. ―Timothy Keller
Often a work of God comes with two edges, great joy and great pain, and in that matter-of-fact response Mary embraced both. She was the first person to accept Jesus on His own terms, regardless of the personal cost. ―Philip Yancey
God sent Jesus at the perfect time for Israel. The hand of Rome was heavy on the Jewish people, and life under an emperor who claimed to be god was particularly oppressive. The people were equally burdened by stern requirements placed on them by religious leaders. Many Pharisees were obsessed with the law and emphasized self-righteous works over God’s grace. This was the weary and hopeless world into which God brought “good news that will cause great joy” (Luke 2:10). ―Randy Alcorn
Each of us is an innkeeper who decides if there is room for Jesus! ―Neal A. Maxwell
She looks into the face of the baby. Her son. Her Lord. His Majesty. At this point in history, the human being who best understands who God is and what he is doing is a teenage girl in a smelly stable. She can’t take her eyes off him. Somehow Mary knows she is holding God. So this is he. She remembers the words of the angel. “His kingdom will never end.”
He looks like anything but a king. His face is prunish and red. His cry, though strong and healthy, is still the helpless and piercing cry of a baby. And he is absolutely dependent upon Mary for his well-being.
Majesty in the midst of the mundane. Holiness in the filth of sheep manure and sweat. Divinity entering the world on the floor of a stable, through the womb of a teenager and in the presence of a carpenter. ―Max Lucado
The baby born in Bethlehem was Creator of the universe. He pitched his tent on the humble camping ground of our little planet. God’s glory now dwelt in Christ. He was the Holy of Holies. People had only to look at Jesus to see God. ―Randy Alcorn
With barely a ripple of notice, God stepped into the warm lake of humanity. Without protocol and without pretension. Where you would have expected angels, there were only flies. Where you would have expected heads of state there were only donkeys, a few haltered cows, a nervous ball of sheep, a tethered camel, and a furtive scurry of curious barn mice.
Except for Joseph, there was no one to share Mary’s pain. Or her joy. Yes, there were angels announcing the Savior’s arrival—but only to a band of blue-collar shepherds. And yes, a magnificent star shone in the sky to mark his birthplace—but only three foreigners bothered to look up and follow it.
Thus, in the little town of Bethlehem … that one silent night … the royal birth of God’s Son tiptoed quietly by … as the world slept. ―Ken Gire
Come to earth to taste our sadness, he whose glories knew no end; by his life he brings us gladness, our Redeemer, Shepherd, Friend. Leaving riches without number, born within a cattle stall; this the everlasting wonder, Christ was born the Lord of all. ―Charles Wesley
No other God have I but Thee; born in a manger, died on a tree. —Martin Luther
So God throws open the door of this world—and enters as a baby. As the most vulnerable imaginable. Because He wants unimaginable intimacy with you. What religion ever had a god that wanted such intimacy with us that He came with such vulnerability to us? What God ever came so tender we could touch Him? So fragile that we could break Him? So vulnerable that His bare, beating heart could be hurt? Only the One who loves you to death. ―Ann Voskamp
If Jesus were born one thousand times in Bethlehem and not in me, then I would still be lost. ―Corrie ten Boom
Once in our world, a stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world. ―C.S. Lewis
Long before silver bells jingled, Christmas lights twinkled, and horse-drawn sleighs went dashing through the snow, God reached down from heaven with the best gift of all. Love, wrapped in swaddling clothes. Hope, nestled in a manger. ―Liz Curtis Higgs
Jesus knew what it was like to have no vacancy in the inn that first Christmas. Human logic says the King of kings should have been born in a palace, surrounded by luxury. Instead, the only door open to the humble Savior was a dirty stable. Amazingly, and revealingly, this was all by God’s design.
Why is this good news for us? Because the Savior offered himself on our behalf, we won’t find “No Vacancy” signs in Heaven. If we’ve made our reservations by accepting God’s gift in Christ, then Heaven is wide open with plenty of room for all of us. ―Randy Alcorn
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.