Summary: Part 1 of MERRY CHRISTMAS SERIES! There is ANOTHER SIDE OF CHRISTMAS. To the Bible characters who played an important role on that first Christmas day, it was not necessarily all peace and joy and love.
It would be difficult to imagine Christmas without lights, good food; without new clothes, new shoes, new toys for the children, without parties; without merrymaking. Since childhood we have known Christmas in the Philippines to be a day of fun, festivities, that is almost impossible to imagine a mirthless Christmas.
So great is the emphasis upon merriment and the buying of gifts that we tend to forget the true of Christmas.
But there is another side of CHRISTMAS. To the Bible characters who played an important role on that first Christmas day, it was not necessarily all peace and joy and love. If we were to analyze carefully their situations, we will agree that theirs was a sad, miserable, difficult, poor and even a violent Christmas. Here are some features of the first Christmas.
I. It was day of Denial and Dissappointments.
For Joseph and Mary that first Christmas was a day of denial and disappointment. They were betrothed to be married soon and had long prepared for that day of happiness. Suddenly God entered the picture and everything changed.
Strange as it may seem, the coming of the angel to Mary changed the whole scenario for this lovely couple. In Luke 1:26, the angel said three beautiful things to Mary:
1. The Lord is with you.
2. Thou art blessed among women.
3. You have found favor with God.
This announcement is good news indeed. But it was negated by the next statement of the angel. "Behold you will conceived in your womb and bear a son..." (Luke 1:31)
Bearing a son in her womb without the benefit of marriage was tantamount to having premarital sex in her and out time. It is meant the denial of their well laid plan of a coming wedding soon. It was to forego their happiness to God’s will in their lives. With God’s amazing and wonderful favor for this couple come the self-denial, hardships, shame, disappointments, problems and difficulties. But such thorns and trials are inevitably connected with the roses of grace whose eternal fragrance will make our lives attractive to others, likely they did with Joseph and Mary.
II. It was a Day of Detours and Difficulties.
The Wise Men who came from the East experienced detours and difficulties in their search and journey to see the Babe in the Manger. The common picture we see of these men is that they dressed in full regalia as if they came from a pleasure trip. In reality they trekked arduous ways and byways to reach the little town of Betlehem where Jesus was born.
At last their patience and their mission was accomplished. They were content and were ready to leave and spread the good tidings in their own lands. But an angel made them go another more arduous route, to foil the evil plans of the greedy Herod! It was a day of detours and difficulties!
III. It was a Day of Death and Despair.
The real story of Christmas also involved the parents of the babies of Jesus’ age. The evil decree of Herod was to kill all the babies of ages two and below, taking no chances of missing his victim. This was about the age of the new Baby who Herod was not allowed to see because of the Wise Men’s non-appearance after their visit from seeing the Baby. All those who were affected by this evil decree, who had sons of Jesus’ age felt it was indeed a day of death and despair!
What a sad turn of events! It was a sad and bitter and mirthless Christmas to those parents whose sons were killed as a result of Herod’s decree.
All the characters were attracted by the Child of Christmas. They were held to a center. Therefore they could forget the circumference. This is why they could sing in adoration to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords..."It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I may learn Thy statutes." They can break out and praise Him who is the Christ of Christmas!