When I was young, our elementary school celebrated with a Christmas play. One year I got to be the donkey in the stable. My teacher gave me a line to say that the donkey might have said when Christ was born.
For some reason my mom thought I wouldn’t do a good job with this line. She told me over and over again to say my line loudly. “Lynn, say your line really loud!” The problem was … I don’t think my mom realized that I would be speaking into a microphone.
I remember the night of the play. We were in the Madison School gymnasium. It was filled with a million moms and dads (or so it seemed to a little girl). I was standing with the other animals in front of the audience. Now was my great moment to say my line loudly. I walked over to the microphone and I yelled out my line … as loud as I could.
I remember that, as I proudly looked out into the faces of the millions of people, they looked shocked. Their eyes were big and their mouths were open. Their hair was blown back.
I had said my line …TOO loudly.
And I was never given a line in the Christmas play again.
But the truth is, we should all be talking about the birth of Jesus loudly. We should sing about it at the top of our lungs without apology. We should read the Christmas story to others proudly and loudly. We should teach the story to our children and grandchildren with conviction. And we should boldly tell those who don’t understand the purpose of Jesus’ birth — that He came here because He loves them.
Talk about blowing people’s hair back — words about Jesus can actually move people’s hearts and minds.
Let’s take a closer look at the Christmas story so we tell it well.
First, Jesus wasn’t born in a stable like we think of today. It was probably more like a stone cave. There were many stones caves hewn into the hills in Bethlehem, sort of like the stone tombs that were cut into the rocks in Jerusalem, like the tomb where one day Jesus would lie.
And little Jesus wasn’t lying in a wooden trough with hay like we think of today. Jesus would have been lying in a flat stone trough after His birth, sort of like how the dead were laid on a flat stone slab in their tomb, like the stone where one day Jesus would lie.
And the baby Jesus would have been wrapped in strips of linen cloth, sort of like what the dead were wrapped in at their burial, like the linen wrapped around Jesus at His death.
Joseph would have placed baby Jesus in that stone manger. The way another Joseph would one day lay Jesus on a stone in his tomb
When we look at these things, we realize that the birth of Jesus foreshadowed the death of Jesus. Because this was no ordinary baby lying in an animal trough. This was God wrapped in humanity, born with a plan for our salvation.
Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem was not His origin; it was His incarnation. God came to us in the flesh so that we might come to Him.
Martin Luther once said:
“All praise to Thee, Eternal Lord,
Clothed in a garb of flesh and blood
Choosing a manger for Your throne,
While world on worlds are Yours alone.”
There is a Latin inscription that says this about Jesus:
I am what I was — God.
I was not what I now am —Man.
I am now called both — God and Man.
Looking into the manger years ago, who would understand that? If the angels hadn’t come to the shepherds and told them who Jesus really was, they would have peeked in at Jesus and said, “What a cute baby.” The end.
Even when Jesus became a man, His own disciples couldn’t understand this. But one astonishing day, the full glory of the Godhead shone out. It was a miraculous night scene among the mountains when, for a few moments, heaven came down to earth … the Transfiguration.
And Peter, James and John were there. And their hair was blown back. As Jesus was praying on the mountain, His face changed and shone like the sun. And His robe became like a blazing white light. Looking at the form of Jesus meant looking at the form of God. And then Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking to Jesus about His coming death. Out of nowhere a bright cloud appeared and overshadowed them all, and a voice … a loud voice … came down from out of the cloud and cried out, “This is my beloved Son with whom I’m very pleased. Listen to Him!” And Peter, James and John fell face down to the ground … terrified. But Jesus came to them and touched them and told them not to be afraid. The disciples slowly looked up and no one was there, but Jesus, the Son of Man in his plain old robe of humanity. The heavenly voice was silent. Moses and Elijah were gone. The cloud dispersed. As they were coming down from the mountain Jesus told them, “Don’t tell anyone about this until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.”
Don’t tell anyone about this? Good thing there wasn’t any social media back then. But here’s the thing: God had called down from the clouds and told the disciples to listen to His Son Jesus. That means God is still calling out to us to listen to His Son.
We must respond to the claims of Christ, that He is Life, Truth, Savior, God.
We have His words recorded in our Bibles. But we also have His actions recorded which sometimes speak louder than His words. When we look at Jesus in the manger, He is saying, “I love you and I’ve put on a robe of flesh for you.”
When we look at Jesus’ life, He is saying, “I love you. And I walked on this earth as a suffering servant so you could know Me.”
When we look at Jesus’ miracles, He is saying, “I love you and I want to heal your hurts and meet your needs.”
When we look at Jesus on the cross, Jesus is saying, “I love you. I paid the penalty for your sins so you can be forgiven and free.”
When we look at Jesus risen from the dead, Jesus is saying, “I love you. I am who I said I was. I’ve risen as I said I would. Trust Me. Receive Me. Confess you are a sinner and come to Me. Because I am the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through Me.”
Jesus’ voice is loud, but some people aren’t listening well. Some people still can’t understand Jesus was more than a baby who grew to become a good man.
But listen to the words of Peter and John after that night when they got a glimpse into who Jesus really was. Peter said, “We haven’t followed cunning fables, when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, because we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”
John said, “And the Word of God became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
I remember the day I recognized Jesus was more than a good person It was the day I listened to Jesus; it was the day of my transfiguration. It was the day I heard Jesus tell me that my sin separated me from God. It was the day I understood He died to pay for my sins. It was the day I invited Him to be the Lord of my life
This is why we celebrate Christmas today.
The manger speaks loudly about the glory and love of our God.
Christmas is all about celebrating this wonderful truth … loudly.
Have a very merry and very loud Christmas!