We’ve been watching the Great Christmas Light Fight. Have you ever watched it before? There are actually a few homes here in San Diego that have been featured on it—one not far from where we live. But it’s a TV show that showcases America’s most fantastic and bright light shows and Christmas decorations. One family had over 400 inflatables in their front yard. Others had Christmas decorations all inside. Others had a show that looked like the Bellagio in Vegas, only with Christmas colors and reindeers.
Giant Christmas trees. Times Square in NYC has decked the halls. The tallest Christmas tree in America is in Idaho. But it’s all about the spectacular. It’s always been about the spectacular. The big. The great. The large. Well, if that’s what you think Christmas is all about then your God is too big. Because Christmas is a lot smaller than you think. And Christmas means a lot more than the world will ever celebrate.
Christmas is a Lot Smaller Than You Think
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
God isn’t into the big like all that. God is into the small. He enters into the tiny spaces, the insignificant crevices of life itself.
Author Frederick Buechner wrote, “The Word became flesh. Ultimate Mystery born with a skull you could crush one-handed.”
The God who made the entire world chose to become small, fragile, and dependent. The God who made our bodies to process and discard food became so small that he fit into the womb of a young girl named Mary. The eternal Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus had to have his own diaper changed. Think about that for a second…
God humbled himself, made himself so small that he had to have a human change his diapers. Christmas is a lot smaller than you’d think. This child is the almighty God. This child in the manger is God himself. This child was all-powerful, yet powerless. This child commands all strength yet was weak.
So when we think of the incarnation—that’s a big word that means God became human, the Word was enfleshed—there’s nothing of what people tend to think of God going on. His birth was ordinary—the body of Jesus grew like all baby bodies do. So Christmas is a lot smaller than you think. And Christmas means a lot more than the world will ever celebrate.
Christmas Means A Lot More Than the World Will Ever Celebrate
The world wants the biggest, best, brightest, happiest, most entertaining, most spectacular, but it was in darkness that the Christ child showed up. Homeless on Christmas Eve, they had nowhere to sleep at night. Born not in a fancy hotel, not in Caesar’s palace, but in a feeding trough where dirty, stinky animals ate. It’s the irony of all ironies. Today and tomorrow are the biggest days of the year for many Americans—Christmas decorations were in stores back in September. Marketers have been at work on us for months to get us to participate in this holiday season. And yet, Jesus was born not on a stage, not in Times Square, but he was born in a stable. He didn’t come to assume the lifestyle of the rich and famous, he chose a poor family of no great reputation. And the body he had—it was probably not that attractive. He was an average looking Palestinian guy. He didn’t have much to impress others with.
He was born into an occupied nation. He had no political clout. And on top of all that, he was born in a family that had scandal written all over it—Jesus was an illegitimate son according to the talk of the town.
The first people to show up to see this Christmas child were not famous celebrities, rockstars, or politicians. They were ordinary shepherds. In Luke chapter 2, the angel tells the shepherds “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people”
If Jesus showing up on Christmas morning isn’t the best news you’ve ever heard of in your entire life, then you can be certain that you’ve never heard good news. If Jesus coming on Christmas morning isn’t the greatest thing you’ve ever heard, then you’ve never really celebrated Christmas.
So what’s this best news about? It’s about a Redeemer, a Savior named Jesus. At the heart of the Christmas story is a rescue mission of sinners like me and like you. God came down at Christmas time because we could have never been good enough to get up to him. God came down at Christmas time, God humbled himself so that he could exalt lowly people like us.
Now if you’re a proud person. If you’re an arrogant person, then Christmas is going to be offensive to you. You aren’t going to want anything to do with Christmas, because in the place of strength we see weakness. In the place of riches, we see poverty. In the place of greatness, we see least-ness. God has come to save those who admit that they don’t have it all together, that they aren’t the strongest, brightest, or best. Christianity says, I have come to seek and save the lost.
The true meaning of Christmas isn’t about the lights and candy canes and presents. It’s not even about generosity or being of good cheer. Christmas is about the God who became small, so that man could be made great. Christmas is about the God who became human so that we could, through faith in him, have fellowship and freedom and forgiveness forever.
The world won’t ever celebrate the greatness of this message because the message is not big, but small. It’s a message reserved not for the great but for the least—not for the righteous but for the unrighteous, not for the proud but for the humble. The world won’t ever see the beauty and significance of a tiny manger.
But to us, Christmas means that God is with us. Christmas means that God is for us. Isn’t that good news?