Sin, Sorrow, and the Joy of Christmas
The lights glow softly, the Christmas music plays, and wondrous thoughts of the birth of our Savior fill our minds. What a blessing it is for the believer who still finds childlike joy in this time of year. Being "grown-up" is a bit over-rated, because being "grown-up," according to the world, usually entails a constant stiff upper lip and a cynical heart. Now, there are times to be stout, to conceal your emotion, and be a bit guarded, but too often these virtues can be turned into vices. Just as there is time to be immovable, there is a time to be moved. There are things that should stir our hearts, and move us to childlike wonder, and the story of the birth of Jesus is one of those things.
Sin is our greatest enemy, and it has been ever since the fall. In our natural condition, with hard hearts, we are the makers of our own demise, we despise what is good, and we love that which will destroy us. So much so that it seems we love our own destruction. And what is worse, is that we are constantly heaping upon ourselves the wrath of a Holy and just God who will not let any sin go unpunished, and the thought of such things should cause us to weep.
If this were where we were left, there would be no hope for any of us. But as we know, in the garden after the fall, God promised that He was going to give us a seed who would be the remedy for sin. What is often missed is the fact that right after this promise, we see a curse that was to come upon mankind for their sinful act of rebellion, and one aspect of that curse was that God Himself was going to cause children to be brought forth in sorrow. Why would God do such a thing after such a wonderful promise? Of all the female creatures upon this earth, it seems that humans have the greatest sorrow during childbirth, but this sorrow is not without hope. Every time a woman grieves during the pain of childbirth, it is to be a reminder to us of the seriousness of sin. It is a proclamation of our depraved condition, but that is not all it is, it is also a gesture of God’s love for His people because He does not want us to evade the knowledge of our sinful condition and neglect the promised seed.
As Mary gave birth that night in a dusty stable, she undoubtedly lamented in pain. Any of us who have pondered that night and have thought of the cold ground beneath her, with no doctor’s guidance, and no comforts of home, have heard her proclamation of the tyranny of sin. In sorrow she gave birth, but the Child was to be the death of her sorrow, and even the death of death itself. Like Rachel giving birth to Benjamin, she may have had the desire to call Him Benoni, the son of her sorrow, but the Father, God Himself, had already declared Him to be the Son of His Right Hand. His name was to be Jesus, for He was to save His People from their Sins.
Christ, God incarnate, had entered our sin riddled world. From his first breath He was to be known as the Man of Sorrows, and He would endure it all because of His love for us. All we like sheep have gone astray, but as Christ suffered the sorrows of this fallen world, He never faltered in His righteousness. He then, like a lamb, willingly went to the slaughter never once opening His mouth in protest. Without fail, He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and By His stripes we are healed.
If this Christmas season is passing you by, and the thoughts of our Savior have not yet moved your heart to adoration, through the Spirit's work, may the meditation of our great God and His Gospel invigorate our sin embattled hearts and produce once again the childlike wonder of the Christmas season. Through faith, He is the joy of our salvation. Though sorrow may still be a part of living in this fallen world, you can have joy in the knowledge that any sins over which you mourn, and any sorrows you face, have been conquered by the child who was born in the manger: Jesus Christ the Lord.