Summary: The greatest Miracle of Christmas
Resource - Christmas Is Not Your Birthday, Mike Slaughter, Abingdon Press, 2011
The Miracle of Christmas
There is a lot of miracle talk around Christmas! Somehow, even the most cynical persons among us find reason to hope for miracles! Even serious people are willing to talk about the appearance of Santa Claus, with his time-defying ride through the skies, in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer with their kids!
Then, too, sentiment comes easily this time of year. The story, of The Miracle of 34th Street, brings a tear to our eye even though rationally we know it is pure fantasy.
I enjoy watching the old film, It’s a Wonderful Life, because it touches some part of me that wants life to be better, that hopes for some miracle that stops the suffering I see and experience. I cheer for good George Bailey, (played by James Stewart) the guy whose lost hope in a grim world run by greedy people. The miracle theme runs through the film as we meet Angel 2nd Class Clarence who is, at first, inept in his mission, but who gets it right in the end!
As much as we might want these stories to be true, as much as we might desire a Santa Claus to show up with all the goodies, toys, and joys we want; maturity forces us to recognize the truth. Our warm, fuzzy ideals about the holiday are out of our reach, unattainable, no matter how many gifts we buy, no matter how many strings of lights we hang, no matter how many of us gather for Christmas parties.
But, all is not lost!
There is a real Christmas miracle, better than Santa Claus, that gives us something far better than the latest gadget or game. The Bible says: (Romans 5:2-8, NIV)
"We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. ... hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Talk about a miracle!
Caught in the grip of death, living in darkness, we who were separated from our God and from life in His love, receive a gift that changes everything, but not in the way we would think. God didn’t choose to show up like Santa Claus, with a bag full to toys, though some wish He would. He came humbly to live among us, to identify with us, and to offer Himself up as the sacrifice that reconciles you and me to our Father!
Inspired by the Spirit, the ancient prophet had promised the miracle!
"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14, NIV) Immanuel (That name means “God with us”) became a figure that loomed large in the imagination of the Jews.
Hearing God’s promises they began to imagine what this Messiah would be like. Soon they had built a hope around a glorious King who would come with glory and power! He would bring freedom and prosperity. He would make their lives easier.
And, indeed, there was reason to hope for those things. The same prophet was inspired to write further of the One who was to come that he would be the "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this." (Isaiah 9:6-7, NIV)
Over time, their ideal of the coming Messiah, became somewhat like our idealized dreams of Santa Claus. He would be the one who filled their plates with food, who would create a paradise of life- right here, right now.
Is your Jesus like that?
Do you wish Him to be the bearer of good gifts, the idol god of our materialism, who will fulfil you by granting your wishes for more stuff?
The miracle we crave is not redemption from sin, but rather a richer experience in this present world.. We want our wishes fulfilled by a figure who makes few demands of us and yet gives us everything. If we think carefully about it, we could find many parallels in our image of the mythical Santa Claus and our re-created image of Jesus Christ.