“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
We all want our lives to mean something. We all need purpose. But the reality of death makes us wonder, “What is it all for?” In our 21st-century Western culture, we tend to deal with the problem of death by denying it, downplaying it, or despairing about it. To find purpose in life, we need an answer to death.
It may seem strange to talk about death at a time that is usually all about love, hope, peace, but actually, it is hard to talk about Jesus’s birth – the true message of Christmas – without thinking about one of the main purposes for which he came: to die.
Here was this Mighty God, born in a dingy manger in a cold stable surrounded by farm animals. Not the ideal place for any baby to be born let alone God’s son!
Many Jewish people expected the promised Messiah that we hear about in Isaiah 9:6 to come as a powerful King – not a helpless baby. The idea of him dying on a cross, at the hands of men, would have been even more shocking. It’s only when we take a step back and see the whole picture, that we understand how Jesus’s purpose is tied up in all these things. He didn’t come for the strong but the weak (2 Corinthians 12:9), he came to help the outcasts from society (Matthew 9:20-22) and those burdened with illness (Luke 5:17-26). He came for the helpless and the vulnerable, so he came in the most helpless and most vulnerable form – a baby.
This year as we think about God’s miraculous journey from Heaven to Earth, let’s celebrate the fact that he didn’t just come to be with us, he came to be like us. And in our calling to be like him, freed from death’s ultimate hold over us, we find a purpose that can sustain us to the very end.
Father, thank you that you came not just to be amongst us but you came to be like us so that you could take the punishment that we deserved so that we could have a relationship with you. Amidst all of the business of Christmas, help us to remember and rejoice in that wonderful truth. Amen.