NOTE: Each day in December, I will be writing a post to help prepare for the Christmas holiday. This year, I will be walking us backward through the life of Christ from His resurrection (in Luke 24), all the way back to His birth in Luke 1 over the 24 days between today and December 25. Check back each day for the next installment.
Every day in every hospital in every city all across the United States babies are being born. Which births are news worthy? Of course, at some level every birth is a big deal . . . after all each child is created in God’s image and has inherent value and dignity. However, if you were a news reporter working for the USA Today, and you were required to do a feature story each day on the most significant birth, how would you decide which one to report on?
- Perhaps you would write about the child born to the famous parents . . . in our celebrity worship culture, famous people are interesting, so maybe you would write on the celebrity birth.
- Perhaps you would write about the birth against all odds . . . the child born prematurely or the child born to the mother with the most difficult health struggle or personal issue.
- Perhaps you would write about the child born at a special time . . . the baby born at 12:12 AM on 12/12/12 this year for instance.
Whatever, the criteria you would use to determine the most noteworthy birth every day, your selection would simply be a guess as to the relevance of the birth. You just would not have enough info to make a solid and educated decision. The BEST way to determine the most signifiant birth on any given day would be to wait to form your list until after the people’s lives are over. I would have a much easier task of determining who the most significant birth was on December 2, 1912 than I would determining who the most significant birth was on December 2, 2012. History would prove to be a great evaluator of the news worthiness of a birth.
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, most people did not even notice. Save some star-gazing magi or some star-struck shepherds, Bethlehem was a sleepy town on the night of Jesus birth.
Sure, Jesus was born:
- with famous lineage (can anyone top Jesus Daddy?),
- was born under remarkable circumstances (virgin birth),
- to a mother facing great hardship (“Who was the father again?”),
- and at a very special time (the fullness of time according to Galatians 6),
but again most people did not recognize the significance of His birth. In order to fully appreciate His birth, you must take His entire life into view, including His resurrection.
Luke 24:1-12 describes Jesus’ resurrection this way:
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.
Jesus’ resurrection makes His birth more important doesn’t it? Ultimately it is not just the first birth of Jesus that makes all the difference for us . . . it is the second birth He offers us in Him. Conquering the grave and raising from the dead, Jesus provided a way for each of us to have a new spiritual birth and a new life . . . a life not marked with the shame and despair of our sin, but an eternal life, marked by hope and forgiveness.
This Christmas, we celebrate the most important birth in history . . . on December 25 or any other day. We know this, not just because of the shepherds and the wise men . . . we know this because at the end of His earthly life He conquered the grave and offers us new life in Him.