Christmas is for Children – meditations on John 1

“In the beginning was the Word.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.

He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.”

Christmas is for children – I’ve heard that said many times. Picture the wonder and excitement of children as they anticipate the bountiful gifts that will be given to them. Their shining faces and their bright eyes. The stringing of Christmas lights, getting out decorations, and the joyous event – helping to decorate the Christmas tree! Think of the delight of children helping to bake and decorate Christmas cookies. That seemingly endless supply of cookies, candy canes, fudge; it sometimes seems like Christmas is one giant sugar high for children!

But, what is Christmas really? Christmas is, in essence, a gift exchange, but on a much higher level.

The Word. The One who was fully God and yet His own person, chose to give Himself to make all of who God is known to the likes of you and me. The Word, in order to reach us, resolved to become one of us, but how to do that? The Word could have come in glory, with the splendor of thousands of angels blaring trumpets, announcing His entry. He could have come in majesty as the son of the most powerful king on earth. He could have come in power and simply overcome all nations. And how long would He stay? The Word could come and make a quick inspection, with a few suggestions on how we could improve. Or He could come for a friendly visit, spend some “quality time” with us and then be on His way.

But, no, none of that would do. The Word resolved that He must fully identify with us if He were to come at all. He must come to dwell with us, to stay for a lifetime. So he chose to start as we all do. The Word became a tiny, little embryo, embraced by the womb of a young woman. He grew within her, and was born, just like each one of us.

And with that birth the Word became Jesus, born in Bethlehem, the son of Joseph; later to be called the Christ, the Anointed One of God. He chose to be born in humble circumstances, in a tiny, forgotten nation, to a people known to worship the only true God.

So God gave us Jesus as a baby in a manger, so Jesus could give his life for us as a Savior.

Now, when God gave us Jesus, what was heaven like? The angels murmured. “Jesus, gone to live on earth! But how can heaven be the same if Jesus is – there?”

Every gift that has ever been given is given at a cost. The cost of Jesus becoming man was a temporary, but very real separation of Jesus from the Father and Holy Spirit while he dwelt in a human body. Did the heart of God the Father ache while Jesus was with us in a humble, human body? We may never know for sure.

But we do know that God gave us Jesus as the way for us to have a good relationship with Him. To those who received Him, He gave the right to become, listen carefully, children of God! Christmas IS for children – God’s children! It doesn’t matter if you are 9 or 90, any one of us can be a child of God. And what gift do God’s children get on Christmas? Why, only the best – they get Jesus Himself.

You and I may not have the best the world has to offer, we may not be in the best of circumstances, we may not BE the best of people – but we have been given God’s best – Jesus.

And what does it mean if we have been given Jesus? It means that we have hope. We have God’s promise that we will experience true life – eternal life, with no more sorrow, no more tears. We will share in His victory over death, we will someday no longer struggle with doubt, fear, evil, aging, compulsions; we will be freed to be all that God originally designed us to be.

So Christmas really is for children. Christmas is an intimate gift exchange. We receive the gift of life from God through Jesus. But an exchange requires giving from both parties. What is to be our gift to God? What could we give to God that He would value, that He could even appreciate?

It’s very simple really, when he sent Jesus as a gift to us, he was basically saying “I love you.” What He wants from us is just to hear those four special words:

“I love you, too.”

Originally posted Monday, January 2, 2012