“…you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He [Jesus] indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” 1 Peter 1:18-21
Today in church, our pastor was talking about how our commercialized view of the stable portrays for us a scene that is completely wrong. If we were to consider the simple scriptural description of the scene at hand, we would likely set a scene before us that includes a grungy and dirty barn/cave, not a perfectly manicured stable with clean animals, and gold accents to boot.
As I have been reminiscing Christmas' past and also thinking about the discrepancy our pastor was talking about this morning, my memories go back to the first year we lived on our farm where we were snowed in on Christmas Eve. And, since we were unable to make it to church that Christmas, we decided instead to have our own service, which of course meant the evening program was going to have a little twist just like everything else our family tends to do.
As we read through the first few chapters of the book of Luke that evening, we had our children wrap a doll in a rag and then place it in an old basket with some hay we had gathered from the barn. What we ended up having before us was not a pretty sight. The lesson exposed through that dirty hay and rag was profound , but realized instantly by us all: Jesus as a newborn did not get any better treatment then one of our lambs in the barn!
John 1:29 states Jesus is “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” And, 1 Peter 1:18-21 (above) continues to explain the relationship of how Jesus, the perfect lamb, finished the work of redemption.
Tomorrow, as we once again start our celebrations of the birth of Christ on Christmas Eve around the world, it is easy to put our eyes upon a sweet little baby in a manger and relish the gift of God coming with picture perfect traditional scenarios surrounding what we observe. But in doing so, we allow the true gift of Christmas to stay wrapped and hidden - not opened and enjoyed for the incredible gift that is contained within what we gaze so dearly upon.
Yes, Jesus is the gift to mankind from our Father God, but also Jesus came as a lamb, a perfect lamb and a perfect sacrifice. He did not come into this world or leave this world in a manner that would make anyone treat Him as God, which He was and still is. Rather, He came into and left this world as a lamb, a life given as a sacrifice from beginning to the end so that the plan of redemption could be completed and we could be saved from the clutches of sin forever.
As our pastor wrapped up his message this morning, he related the dirty stable to our hearts that Jesus also came to live in. My 8 year-old daughter, thinking about her physical heart, said, “I think living in my heart would be worse than living in a grungy stable.” And although she didn't quite understand the analogy our pastor was pointing to, I had to agree with her. My sinful heart is that last place even I desire to dwell, and here the perfect Son of God, Jesus, not only came to earth to live His first day (if not more) in a dirty barn, but He came for the ultimate purpose of living every day in the dirty hearts of men and women - those who chose to accept Him as their Lord so He could set them free for eternity.
What a gift! One that we need to unwrap and praise Him for every day, not just once a year at Christmas time.