Jesus probably wasn’t born today. Or tomorrow. Or really anytime in December.
But that doesn’t really matter. We celebrate anyway.
But what do we celebrate? What does the birth of the Messiah mean to us today?
It means God is with the poor and suffering. Jesus wasn’t sent into a family of wealth. He was sent to a poor, young girl and her fiancee.
And he was sent as our Savior. How could someone who was poor and powerless be the savior of the world?
He could be our savior exactly because he was poor and powerless. That was the only way to truly save us.
I guess what I’m getting at here is a time to talk about Substitutionary Atonement and how, when we put so much emphasis on it, we miss HUGE parts of the mission of Christ.
Jesus came as a child. He lived a life, a life probably no one reading this blog can even imagine. It was a life of poverty, of struggle. A life in a society where one’s worth was determined almost entirely by one’s class, which is something that’s better understood by those in India and the Middle East. Not something we really understand in the West.
He lived for 30 years on this earth, after which he began a ministry. This ministry lasted for 3 years. 3 years of him teaching and teaching some of the same things over and over again to his disciples, who at the end, still didn’t get it.
Now let me ask a question. If Jesus’s ultimate mission was to die on the cross, for the purposes of giving us a free ticket out of hell, why in the world would he spend 33 years in poverty when all he needed to do was slip down, get killed, and come back from the dead. Surely it wasn’t just because God needed to take up more pages in the Bible.
My theory is that God’s plan involved more than just Substitutionary Atonement. Much more. And while that was a piece of the puzzle, it wasn’t the big picture. The big picture involves redemption of the whole world, and Jesus’s life came to teach us how that could occur from the bottom up, rather than the top down.
This viewpoint gives Jesus 33 years an actual purpose. He was showing us the way. Not just the way to escape hell, but the way to live life to the full. Through Jesus example, we can see that its not an easy life. The life of a Christian will get you persecuted. But because he died and rose, we have no reason to fear death, for as he rose from the dead, so one day will we. So we are freed to live a radical life such as his, regardless of the consequences. This is the only way that the world can once again be restored to perfection, restored to what God intended it to be all along. Hearts cannot be changed through law. They can only be changed through radical grace and love. And the sooner Christians start to understand that, the sooner things will change.