Do we know what the word Holy means? When we read the Christmas account it is an aspect of God that is presented clearly. “An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.” Terrified at the glory of the Lord… “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.'”(Luke 2:9-14) A great company of heavenly host…praising God and saying Glory to God in the highest heaven. This is a realm of absolute perfection, where “not too bad” or “almost” just doesn’t make it. I don’t think there is anything we know of on earth that can be called absolute perfection, or truly holy. We have become so accustomed to the “almosts” and the “no body’s perfect” that it has become our normal. Yet the whole point of the Christmas account is that God has come among us in order to bring us into His holy life. He has come that in Jesus we may be cleaned of sin and given His righteousness. We can’t do it. We will never be holy in ourselves, but in Jesus we can stand cleansed by His blood, in perfect righteousness before the Father. The manger in Bethlehem is the only place we can find our holiness.
Yesterday I wrote about the incarnation, Almighty and Eternal God becoming man. It will always be an astounding truth to me. The question that must follow is, why would He do such a thing? Let me approach this from a human perspective. I know parents who have spent fortunes to help their children out of trouble. I know children, even in their 30s and 40s, whose parents have sacrificed their health, their time, and anything necessary to try to set them on the right path. That is the depth of love of a parent for their child. If we call God our Father, would He really do any less? Jesus said, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11) We are God’s creation. He brought us into being. He loves us.(John 3:16) But we are that wayward child. We have sinned. The inner core of our being is in rebellion from God. “If you who are evil…”Jesus said. A wayward child without any intervention will destroy themselves. Parents don’t want to see that happen. God came to do something for us that we are completely incapable of doing for ourselves. He came to deal with the sin that resides within each of our hearts. No good works, no nice personality, nothing that we can do will atone for the sin in us. God came, in the weak, humble, Bethlehem Baby to live and grow in human flesh, the perfect human life, to be the sacrificial offering for the sins of all mankind. In His death He paid the price that all of our sins deserve. When you look at the baby in that stable feeding trough you are looking at the greatest gift you have ever received. In Jesus your life rests.
In each of our wars there has been one event that stood out as a battle cry. “Remember the Maine,” the American battleship sunk in 1898 that strengthened our resolve in the Spanish-American war. The Lusitania in 1915 at the beginning of WWI, and of course Pearl Harbor in 1941 that brought us into WWII. These events were rallying cries that kept people focused on a great cause. What has this to do with Christmas? Not much, except to say that we must never forget the love that God has for us, and was focused in a Bethlehem manger. Stores are already getting rid of their Christmas merchandise and getting ready for Valentines Day. It must never be so for us. The love that came to us in a stable, is a love that seeks to enfold us every moment of our lives. Let us not forget.