Summary: It cost Him the cross to be born at Christmas. He was born to die, and die He did that we might be saved. We are saved freely, for it is a gift that Jesus bought for us, but the fact is it cost Jesus everything. Grace is free to receive, but it was costly to give.

December in Peru is just as hot as July. The jungle is steaming and the

insects are ferocious. Yet in that jungle setting more than 300 people from the

Wycliff Bible Translators celebrate Christmas. The twinkling Christmas tree

lights are not on a pine or fur tree, but on a banana or palm tree. It is radically

different from our idea of Christmas, but it is nevertheless a precious time for

the families there, and the children who grow up with this environment. They

think ours is not really a true Christmas experience.

Bernie May is a pilot for Wycliff in that group, and his 3 boys were really

excited as Christmas approached some years back. He had to fly some medical

supplies to an Indian tribe in the jungle, but he was scheduled to return to his

family on Dec. 23rd. He made the 5 hour fight and landed on the river near the

Indian village. He would return the next day, but in the night fog and rain

came and he could not fly out. It rained all day and night, and Christmas Eve

was the same. He was so frustrated he slipped on his poncho and trudged

down to the river edge. He crawled out onto the wing of the plane and sat there

feeling desperately sorry for himself. It was Christmas Eve and there he was

stuck in the jungle, and he would not be with his family on Christmas. That

was what he most wanted in the world.

He sloshed his way back to the hut and laid down in his hammock feeling

homesick, and he began to think. This is what Christmas was for Jesus. He

was not home, for his home was heaven with the Father, and He was on earth

far from His heavenly family. Christmas for Jesus was not going home, but

leaving home. So it was also for Joseph and Mary. They were not home, but

were far away from home and their family. It was a costly Christmas for those

who made the first Christmas a reality. The rain finally stopped so that by

Christmas night Bernie was home with family, but he had learned this

lesson-there is a lot of costs involved in Christmas besides the presents.

Christmas cost him a lot of misery, for had it been any other day he could

have missed it and not been so lonely, but because it was Christmas the hurt

was so much harder to bear. Had there been no Christmas, however, he would

not have been in the jungle in the first place, for he was there because Christ

came into the world to seek and save the lost. He was a part of that on going

effort to fulfill the plan of Jesus to reach the whole world with the good news

that unto you is born a Savior. Had Jesus never come, He never would have

gone. So Christmas cost Him plenty, and it cost Him a life of compassion for

other people. It cost Him a radical change in His life work, and because He

cared it cost Him the loss of precious time with His family.

The real cost of Christmas is not just in the multiplied millions of presents

that people purchase. In the United States alone people spend many billions of

dollars for gifts. In the 1800's Christmas presents were for children, and adults

gave simple things to each other like fountain pens and handkerchiefs. After

World War I there was fear that the boom time of the war years would be

followed by a stagnant economy, and so there was an all out push to get people

to buy more expensive gifts. It was implied that the more expensive gift you

gave the more you cared. In the New York Times on Dec. 15, 1919 this ad

appeared that began the upward spiral of the cost of Christmas. It said, "Don't

give your family and friends frivolous gifts that are sure to disappoint. Buy

them worthy gifts that will let them know how much you care." This has led to

Christmas being very costly in a monetary way.

As we focus on the biblical characters in the cast of the first Christmas

drama we discover each of them had to pay a cost. Joseph and Mary had an

enormous cost. It cost them a great deal of stress and loss of reputation.

Joseph had to be devastated by the news that Mary was with child. Mary

would also be hurt by his doubt, and heavy with frustration in trying to explain

the virgin birth. It cost them the comfort of home to get to Bethlehem, and

even more so during their exile in Egypt. They were not prepared for such a

disruption of their lives. The birth of any baby brings added costs, but Jesus

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