Luke 2:3 (ESV)
3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town.
Colossians 2:14 (ESV)
14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
Did you know the definition for the word registered begins with the words to write off? The key point of Christ’s birth was to write off the records our sins, not by covering but by cleansing them. It is why we get so excited about Christmas. It’s not just a wonderful story about a child safely born, it’s a miraculous story about a God born so we could all be reborn.
Bethlehem itself means the house of bread. For centuries, there was no wheat in the house. God was always present, but His presence in the manger was promised, not yet fulfilled until that night. When He was born, and God’s human cry pierced the darkness of the night, it meant a far greater darkness would soon be expelled by Light.
Isaiah called Him a root out of a dry ground. Can you imagine how insignificant another birth at the time when a census was taking place must have been? Oh, they recorded it because it was part of their routine, their job, their existence. Yet recording and celebrating are two different things.
Even this year, in the midst of a chaotic world, many will record that Christmas was here. Now as then there is a great difference between recording Christmas and celebrating it. I’m sure that most are familiar with the story, but are you entering the stable?
The Innkeeper knew a baby was on the way, but the shepherds walked into the cave. The census taker could see something was about to happen, but the angels sang. Wisemen held on to a prophecy passed down from generations past, while descendants of Abraham in David’s town missed the significance of the moment.
Please, don’t just record that it’s Christmas, celebrate the purpose of His birth. I love the decorations, the festivity, and the food, but all of that is just wrapping paper. The real secret is that God loved us enough to be born to die, so we could have life and more abundantly. If you do nothing else this Christmas, take a few minutes to worship The One Who loved us enough to go through all of this.
He became a citizen of a town that He would only stay in for a short time, so He could become The Son Of Man. He moved first to Egypt, then to Nazareth, so He could walk among us. He spent three and a half years introducing Himself to Israel, so He could introduce us all to Mercy and Grace.
Don’t just view the manger scene, imagine what it took to craft it, not the porcelain figures, but the people. God positioned each individual where they would need to be so they could hear, see, and hold mercy in their hearts. He still does the same for each of us.
Oh we may not step foot in the stable, the cave of His birth, but we can all visit an altar. Each of us can spiritually find hope at the foot of His cross. We can all celebrate another cave, the one where death was conquered. As you place your ornaments this year, and you wrap your gifts, remember where and why He placed Himself in a little backwater town. To write off every sin, every mistake, every evil we’ve ever done, and so that we could be reborn into His family. What a reason to celebrate Christmas!