Christmas Advent Day 16: Preparing to Reflect
For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. (John 6:38, ESV)
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. (Luke 19:10, ESV)
Reflect (verb) – think deeply or carefully about.
As we prepare our hearts and minds for some deeper reflection this Christmas season, perhaps one of the most searching questions would be why Jesus would come down to earth from a place of perfection and splendor. Why would He choose to leave His Father and come to an earth full of sin and ruin? Nothing about His choice to come makes any sense from a practical standpoint; the only basis for this choice must be a love beyond our comprehension.
We don’t have to look far through God’s Word to find the reason Jesus came. The above Scripture references tell us that a) He came to do His Father’s will, and b) He came to seek and to save the lost. In fact, the very meaning of His name, Jesus, is Savior—He came to save His people from their sins.
We can get so wrapped up in the joyful, sentimental and traditional meaning behind our own celebrations of Christmas yet miss the true underlying theme—Jesus came to save us. While my own heart finds warmth and joy in the traditions that my family holds dear, this is just an outpouring from something so much grander than any tradition or gathering or eye-pleasing décor. It pulls our hearts to a promise—the coming of our Savior, foretold throughout Scripture and realized in a simple manger in Bethlehem.
I recently spent some time reflecting on that manger scene of so many years ago. As a mother, I can’t think of anything more precious than a newborn’s warm, silky, soft head. How we love to press our lips against it and breathe in the sweet fragrance with loving touches and whispered gentle words. Mary would have been no different—and yet Jesus’ sweet and tender head would endure such pain at the hands of those He came to save. It’s such a beautiful story, yes, but it’s touched with profound grief, pain, and a redemption that continues to astound me. Do you feel it too?
I can appreciate that John the Baptist certainly was awestruck by Jesus and understood the reason for His coming. He recognized Him as Messiah, and exclaimed in John 1:29: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” Is my own heart able to put aside the busyness of the season, and behold our Savior—not just the manger Savior, but the One who came to give His life for me? Will I take the time to reflect on the purpose for His coming rather than just celebrate the traditions that surround my own family and home?
I love Christmastime and all the fun and beauty of the season, but if I celebrate all of it without giving thought to the cost of His coming, I’m missing the point. Jesus came because His Father had a plan for Him here. That plan included His birth, yes, but ultimately God’s plan would lead Jesus up a hill to a cross where He would lay down His life for me and for you so that we could be rescued from sin and death. This is the reason we celebrate, friends; the Christmas season is not for us to get lost in the manger scene (although it’s a part of His story) but to reflect on Calvary. His coming climaxed on that cross when He paid the price for our sin.
Today, as we continue our Advent study, may we each lay aside ample quiet time to not only reflect on these things but allow them to change us. That’s what the gospel does; it transforms our thinking and our very lives when we allow Jesus to have priority in our hearts. As we reflect on the purpose for His coming and all it means to us, may our hearts be drawn to worship our beautiful, life-giving Savior. The season may be beautiful in many ways, but it pales in comparison to the beauty of the One we celebrate.
“O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.”
-John Francis Wade (1711–1786)