>A short preface: When we left Houston yesterday, it was 74 degrees and painfully muggy…to the point where loading presents into the car left me glistening with what I assume was sweat, but it felt more like funk from the air settling on to my body. Needless to say, escaping Houston was the best gift of all this holiday.
When I woke up this morning, Abby looked out the window and exclaimed excitedly: “It’s snowing!” And sure enough, there is a howling, wet, cold, snowy mess congregating in the great city of Abilene. Cars, houses, roads, and people who stand still for too long end up covered in the white stuff, giving A-Town an ethereal look to compliment my first Christmas Eve as a married dude.
The funny thing is, I would go outside and walk around in this and revel in the goodness all morning. Coats and hats are beautiful things. My wife, and the rest of my family, would rather sit inside and watch it through the windows, almost like a zoo where it’s fun to look but not touch. The snow is an inviting, beautiful gift from God to me, and a wet nuisance to everyone else. It’s all in the perception.
So imagine you are a member of the 1st century Jewish elite (I know, not a hard stretch is it?) and you’re waiting for a sign from God, ANY SIGN, that His promised Messiah is coming. You start to hear reports of a child being born, angels visiting, and strange cosmic harbingers that maybe, just maybe, will signal the end of the suffering and oppression. And then, you finally make it to Jerusalem and find this child…and he is a poor child born in a barn to an unwed mother who supposedly is a “virgin.” You may be a Jewish priest and not a physician, but you know thats unlikely at best.
You would be crushed! This isn’t a king, a warrior, a Savior! This is a weak, poverty stricken child whose father is a carpenter! And then later on, he becomes a carpenter, meaning he took up his family’s trade and probably passed on being a true rabbi, which at the very least should be a necessary step in leading the Jews to salvation. This is a waste of time and a waste of hope…another year gone without help from a supposedly caring God.
On the flip side, imagine you are a poor Jewish person, or even later on, a Gentile believer, who has been excluded from society and never given an inch of anything in your life. You are under the regime of a tyrannical king who would just as soon kill you than actually fix your problems. You’ve been told there is a Savior, a new King, who has come to save EVERYONE. He specifically mentions the poor, the meek, and goes out of His way to love those who may have never felt love. This is a ruler, with power and authority, who gives His life in order that everyone may spend eternity with Him. This is an amazing gift, and a sign that God truly cares about us all!
Jesus’ life is all about perception. Those who had a set idea of what a Messiah was “supposed” to be were disappointed and gave up. Those who saw the gentle carpenter for what He was–the embodiment of love and peace–had abundant life.
So when you see Christmas, and specifically see Christ in other people, do you see a nuisance, or do you see love? What is your perception of Christ and His sacrifice?
“Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” Luke 7:22-23