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