My guess is you probably know the Christmas Story. You’ve heard it many times before. But have you thought of the significance of the Christmas Story? Have you ever asked yourself, Why did Jesus come to earth?
This story has become so routine that it’s sadly become mundane. We don’t even give it more than a passing thought. But this story is of high importance and has enormous implications. So let’s dive a little deeper into this question, why did Jesus come to earth?
Why Did Jesus Come To Earth?
On April 12, 1961, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel into space and orbit the earth. The blow to the American psyche at losing this leg of the Space Race was deepened when reports began to circulate that, during his flight, Gagarin had commented: “I don’t see any God up here. In response, C.S. Lewis wrote a work called The Seeing Eye.
In this work he says, If there is a God that created us, we could not discover him by going up into the air. God does not relate to us the way a man on the 2nd floor would relate to a man on the 1st floor. He would relate to us the way Shakespeare relates to Hamlet. Shakespeare is the creator of Hamlet’s world and of Hamlet himself. Hamlet can know about Shakespeare only if the author reveals information about himself in the play. So too the only way to know about God is if God has revealed himself.
This is the significance of the Christmas Story. This is why Jesus came to earth. God has revealed himself in the play that’s unfolding in the Bible. But he goes far beyond that, he actually writes himself into the story of humanity. He enters into the story not as a hero, but as an infant. Why? So He can reveal Himself to us in the most profound way.
The Christmas story is God coming to earth as the most fragile and vulnerable way possible so that we can relate to Him.
God Enters Into Our Story
This is radical and something no one was expecting. God doesn’t just come to restore creation to Him (he does that too). He walks in our shoes and suffers our pains so that His people can relate to him.
As Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it, “Only a suffering God can help.”
No other religion has a God that willingly suffers for His people. A God that can so deeply and compassionately identify with His creation.
Humanity longs for intimate relationships. Sure we hide it, pretend we don’t need it, but at our core, we were built for community. The Christmas Story shows us that God, the creator of the universe, wants a relationship with us. So much so that he is willing to enter into our story, our pain, in order to show us His love and desire for us.
That’s why Jesus came to earth as a baby. He didn’t come to conquer and force his way. Because he desires not blind obedience, but love.
Philip Yancey in Disappointment With God says this, He Desires what power can never win. He is a King who wants not subservience, but love. Thus, rather than mowing down Jerusalem, Rome, and every other world’s power, he chose the slow, hard way of Incarnation, love, and death. A conquest from within.
God enters into our story and lives among us. Immanuel.
The Significance of Immanuel
Isaiah 7:14 foretells the coming messiah and hints to the way in which He will enter the world. His name shall be Immanuel. The implication of Immanuel is that God would dwell among his people. Up to this point the Israelites had seen a type of this dwelling, but God was “contained” to the holy of holies. The thought that God would take on human flesh was beyond their wildest dreams.
John 1:14 encapsulates the promise of Immanuel without actually using the term. I love how Eugene Peterson’s The Message translates this verse: “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” That is what Immanuel means. That even in the worst of places, God is with us. He has moved into our neighborhood.
This further shows God’s desire for a relationship. Rather than making us get to Him. He came to us.
For more on the significance of Immanuel check out: The Significance of Immanuel (as it relates to suffering)
How We Should Respond
The question we should be asking is How should I be living in light of the Christmas Story?
While there’s plenty of things we could take away I think there are two major application points we shouldn’t miss.
Remember God’s Desire For You
Many of us have this view of God that He’s just waiting for us to screw up so he can punish us. But that’s not his desire for you. He wants a relationship with you. He’s not waiting for you to screw up so he can say Gotcha and throw you into hell to suffer. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. He is willing to enter into your pain and suffering (your hell) so that you can relate to Him and so He can give you hope.
This is why Jesus came to earth. He’s showing us He wants a relationship of mutual choosing. He will never force us, it’s our choice to follow him or not. That’s why he came as a baby and not as a conquering king. He’s after love, not subservience.
You’ve heard this Christmas story 1,000 times. But let it soak in. The creator of the universe came down to earth. Walked in your shoes. Felt what you feel. All in pursuit of His people (you!). You can relate to him. Run to Him. Let Him give you comfort and hope. God wants a relationship with you.
Do The Same For Others
The significance of the Christmas Story isn’t just for us personally. It’s for us to give away. That’s how the Gospel works. It’s not just for us to benefit from. It’s for us to give away.
Jesus came to earth and entered into our story. The Christmas Story shows us that God isn’t scared by our messiness and sin. We should react the same way to those in our life. There are people all around us that are hurting, messy, broken, and full of sin. We should enter into their story. Yeah, it’s messy and difficult and won’t be easy. But that’s exactly what Jesus did for us. And we are called to do the same.
I know what some of you are thinking. How could I do that? I don’t have the answers? I don’t know what to say… Your presence is greater than your ability to solve their problems. Besides Jesus did the heavy lifting already. We just need to be present with others as Jesus is present with us.
Why did Jesus come to earth? To reconcile His people back to him. The Christmas story is the opening scene of a God willing to leave heaven in pursuit of His people. May we never forget the significance of His sacrifice. And may we never stop showing others his love.
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