It's been a few weeks since Christmas but I've been reminded of the true meaning of Christmas and it's more than you've always thought. Allow me to share...
Christmas is interesting because we place so much focus on the Christmas Eve and the Christmas morning experience that we sometimes forget that after “Christmas” for Jesus was really just the beginning of His earthly life and ministry. In our 2021/2022 world we come to Christmas, we get all excited and then on the 26th of December or maybe on the first day that we’re back in school or work, after the Christmas break we move on back to our normal lives. I call it the "Post Christmas Slump". What if we could avoid that slump? Here's how...
What if we understand that while Christmas is all about the “Arrival” of Jesus on earth it’s really more about the, if I can use another word that starts with the letter “A”, the “Adjustment” that should happen in our lives as a result of the “Arrival” of Jesus.
Most of us are familiar with the Bible passage from the first 20 verses of Luke 2 that record for us all of the details surrounding the “Arrival” of Jesus on earth, but let's focus on what comes after those first 20 verses. While you and I go back to life as normal after celebrating the “Arrival” of Jesus, for Jesus it was the beginning of Him accomplishing what He was sent to do which was helping the world with the “Adjustment” that was needed.
Luke 2:21-24 (NLT) says, “Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived. Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. The law of the Lord says, “If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the Lord.” So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord—“either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
What we read here is that Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple, which was what all parents did with their new born children, to present Him, have him circumcised and make a purification offering for Him which was meant as a way to honor God and give thanks to God for this new baby.
It's in verse 25 and following that we first see the idea of Jesus' true purpose, "Adjustment" come to the surface.
Luke 2:25-31 (NLT) says, “At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people.”
If we were to stop reading right there we might think that the arrival of Jesus was what mattered most. Here’s Simeon, a guy who had waited his whole life to see the arrival of the Savior. He even says there at the end, “Now I can die in peace because what I’ve been waiting to see has finally shown up.” The "Arrival" of Jesus had finally occurred, but wait, Simeon had more to say.
He goes on in Luke 2:32-35 and says, “He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!” Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”
Boom! There it is! Here’s where we start to see for the first time this idea that “Adjustment” was more important than just “Arrival”. Again, we spend all of our time at Christmas celebrating the “Arrival” and what God was really all about in sending Jesus was the “Adjustment” that needed to take place in the world.
Simeon says, "Many will fall." Perhaps referring to those who go around living their lives in a proud and arrogant way: Jesus came to offer the opportunity for adjustment to these people. People who are living arrogantly and pridefully aren’t different just because of the arrival of Jesus, they’re different because they took Jesus up on the offer of an adjustment.
Proverbs 29:23 (NLT) says, “Pride ends in humiliation…”
Proverbs 16:5 (NLT) says, “The Lord detests the proud; they will surely be punished.”
Simeon says, "Many will rise." Perhaps those who are dragging themselves through the mud, those who think they have no value, they convince themselves that they have no worth. Jesus came to offer those people an adjustment, to bring them into the fullness of who God created them to become.
The beginning of Proverbs 29:23 (NLT) says, “Pride ends in humiliation…” but it ends by saying, “while humility brings honor.”
God doesn’t make junk right? God doesn’t make mistakes. Sometimes we can slip into this mindset where we start comparing ourselves to all of the stuff we see on social media and we start to get really down on ourselves. We start to value ourselves at a far lower level than God values us.
According to Proverbs, honor doesn’t come from promoting ourselves, it comes from being humble. We are called to be faithful and let God bring honor when to us when He sees fit.
Simeon ends by saying, "Hearts will be revealed." Sometimes we forget that what goes on in our hearts and minds isn’t really private. We might be able to hide what’s in our hearts and minds from spouses, friends and co-workers but we forget that God sees and is fully knowledgeable about every thought and feeling that runs through us.
Luke 16:15 (NLT) says, “You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts. What this world honors is detestable in the sight of God.” We’re not fooling God when it comes to what’s really going on in our hearts. God makes it super clear that when Jesus “Arrived” lots of people would receive an “Adjustment” that they may have not even seen coming.
So where are you? Are you in the Christmas slump? Has the wonder of the "Arrival" faded? Take some time to focus on the "Adjustment" that Jesus is calling you to make. Be encouraged and keep moving forward.