As I read and reread the Christmas story I have become increasingly staggered over recent years by the nature of what really took place. The problem for some of us is that we have grown up with it, and we could recite it just like that. We have become over familiar. We know the surface story, but we haven’t plumbed the depths. For others it’s no more than a good story – great for the kids, but hey, “I’ve grown up.”
To appreciate a good meal, it can’t be rushed, the food needs to be eaten slowly, it needs to be tasted …. So it is with the Word of God, we will never get the full benefit by casual or speed reading. Just so with the Christmas story. It needs to be dwelt on, reading the different scriptures relating to it (Prophetic, Gospels and Letters), building up the story, savouring every part, letting the Word speak for itself.
As the Early Church Father Gregory said, “The unussumed is the unredeemed,” or as the writer to the Hebrews (Chapter 2) put it, Jesus “had to be made like us in every way.”
In order to bring about our salvation Jesus had to enter our fractured, weak, humanity to redeem every part of it – not just our alienation from God, but what such alienation had done to us, spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally, relationally, and in doing so he undid what the Fall had done, and offered it back to God as the life we should have lived but couldn’t have lived (Romans 8:1-4), and so he was able to offer himself ultimately as an atoning sacrifice for all our sins.
The story of the Cross and Resurrection begins with the Incarnation. If we don’t get that right, we will not get the rest right.
No wonder the hymn writer said “Hallelujah, what a Saviour!”
May the Lord bless you and yours with his peace and joy this Christmas, and the richest of his blessings in the New Year!