With the holiday season in full swing, it is easy to be swept away into the hubbub that is the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. It seems this time of year is anticipated for most of the calendar but when it finally is here, it moves at the speed of light. Family gatherings, office Christmas parties and cookie exchanges abound this time of year, and for good reason! It is a season to celebrate, come together, and be thankful.
As a child, I longed for the holiday season, because it meant great food, time off from school, and presents galore! I agreed wholeheartedly with Andy Williams that the holiday season is “the most wonderful time of the year!”
Now, as I am older, am a pastor, and have a family of my own, I still long for this season, yet for different reasons. Yes, it is wonderful to see the joy on my children’s faces when they get excited for hot chocolate or to go sledding on a snowy night. Those are wonderful times to share indeed! Yet, as we stop and ponder the blessings of the season, we would be remiss if we didn’t take ample time to pause and thank God for the real and true blessing of Christmas: the coming of his Son, Jesus Christ.
The world that the Son of God was born into was a harsh one. Imperial Rome dominated the Mediterranean and Near Eastern World with utter power and cruelty; God had not sent a prophet to be his mouthpiece to his people for hundreds of years, and to say the quality of life during Jesus’ time was less than most of us enjoy now would be an understatement.
I am not sure what is more astonishing: that Jesus, the Son of God, left his heavenly dwelling place where he had perfect communion with the Father, or that he came into “our space” and lived a human life. Both are utterly mindboggling to me.
But what might be even more wonderful is why Jesus came. Luke 19:10 says, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Jesus left his heavenly dwelling place, where he enjoyed perfect communion with the Father, in order to seek and save those who are lost, those who are alienated, those who have wandered far from God. The Bible says that means all of us. All people are alienated from God on account of their sin. But in his great mercy, Jesus came to seek us out and save us.
Jesus did that by dying for the sins of all people on the cross. The innocent One taking the place of the guilty; the Holy One dying for sinners. John 3:16 may be the most known Bible verse in history, but the truth remains the same. It says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
As the holiday season is in full swing, I again am thankful for time with family and friends, for good food and good memories to be made. But I am above all else thankful for Jesus, the One who came to seek and save the lost. The One who offered his life so I would not have to. The One who rose again to new life and offers eternal life to all who would place their trust in him. I am thankful for this most generous God. I trust and pray that this season you will experience the joy of knowing Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world by placing your hope and faith and trust in him!
Brandon Herron is pastor of student and family ministries at First Baptist Church in Sandpoint. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.