The thing I can’t get over about Christmas is the absolute, total, amazing, earth-shattering change the coming of Jesus Christ had on the relationship of all mankind with God the Father.
Before the birth of Jesus and His life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension only one person, and only once a year, could dare to come anywhere near God. Only the High Priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies that contained the Ark of the Covenant and he could do so only on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. He had to ritually wash himself, put on very specific special clothing, bring burning incense to let the smoke cover his eyes from a direct view of God, and bring sacrificial blood with him to make atonement for the sins of the people –and he himself had to be free from all sin.
I don’t know about you, but if it was me walking behind that veil on that day, I would be very, very nervous about how pure I was. What if I tripped over my shoelace and inadvertently uttered an impure exclamation? How could I keep from remembering any of the sins I had committed during my life?
No wonder there were rumors that they tied a rope to the High Priest so if God killed him while he was back there, they could drag him out. (There is no proof this was ever actually done.)
And then, on the day when Jesus was born, all of God’s armies show up in some field outside Bethlehem and the first people they tell that the Messiah, the King of kings, has been born are a bunch of smelly, lowly, undereducated shepherds. These people weren’t even considered capable of testifying in court, and they get dibs on coming into the presence of the perfect, spotless lamb who would take away all the sin of the world? Where were their veils and special clothing and incense to shield their eyes from the presence of the Living God?
And, the thing that absolutely floors me is that I –this big goofy guy in a plaid flannel shirt with a prodigal past and absolutely no right to be treated even as well as those shepherds– I am told in Hebrews 4:16 that I can come boldly not into the earthly Holy of Holies, but before God the Father’s actual throne of grace because Jesus has become our High Priest:
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”(KJV)
Think about that whole “before and after” picture right there.
Christmas does indeed change everything –and while our enemy is still allowed to roam this earth and create havoc and lie and steal and murder, that relationship has changed, too. Colossians 1:13:
For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, (NLT)
We who have received Jesus as Christ, LORD, and King are no longer subjects of the kingdom of darkness. We are, in fact, adopted as actual heirs –children of the one true King! (Ephesians 1:5)
So, before we take down the tree and put those Christmas lights away, let us not forget what those lights are meant to represent.
Maybe I’ll leave those lights on the porch up year-round.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.