Big Things Come In Little Packages

Carefully wrapped presents—family gatherings—festive ornaments—friends—colorful lights—fellowship—carols—and food! It’s almost Christmas. We love this time of year!

Believers celebrate December 25th as the day when, perhaps more than at any other time, we think of Him. His name is on our lips—Jesus. But what does His name mean? —Yeshua is the Hebrew name for Jesus. Yeshua means “Salvation.”

Where does the Christmas story begin? —The drama might have started anywhere, but God saw fit to introduce His Son to the world in a manger—a common feeding trough for livestock. This certainly isn’t very “kingly,” but it is appropriate as we consider His ultimate purpose and objective.

In It Began In A Manger, Max Lucado shares an interesting perspective:

“Jesus may have had pimples. He may have been tone-deaf. Perhaps a girl down the street had a crush on him or vice versa. It could be that his knees were bony. One thing’s for sure: He was, while completely divine, completely human.

“For thirty-three years he would feel everything you and I have ever felt. He felt weak. He grew weary. He was afraid of failure. He was susceptible to wooing women. He got colds, burped, and had body odor. His feelings got hurt. His feet got tired. And his head ached.

“To think of Jesus in such a light is—well, it seems almost irreverent, doesn’t it? It’s not something we like to do; it’s uncomfortable. It is much easier to keep the humanity out of the incarnation. Clean the manure from around the manger. Wipe the sweat out of his eyes. Pretend he never snored or blew his nose or hit his thumb with a hammer.

“He’s easier to stomach that way. There is something about keeping him divine that keeps him distant, packaged, predictable.

“But don’t do it. For heaven’s sake, don’t. Let him be as human as he intended to be. Let him into the mire and muck of our world. For only if we let him in can he pull us out.”

The Scriptures reveal that Jesus was born of a virgin in the city of Bethlehem—precisely as foretold many years before (Matthew 1:18-2:23). Christ was conceived, not by man, but the Holy Spirit. Jesus existed before the creation of the world (John 1). Jesus is a Person of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). He came in human form for a purpose—to die as a willing sacrifice in payment for the sins of mankind. Jesus did this because He loves us. His death provides eternal salvation as a free gift to all who receive and follow Him.

As we celebrate the birth of our Lord this Christmas, let us remember that it’s not about where He was born or when He came or even how He came. The real issue is why He came. Christ came to suffer and to die. Bethlehem took place so that Calvary could take place. Jesus lived to die. His death was necessary so He could become our substitute, our Salvation, our Sanctifier, our Conqueror, and our High Priest. He is truly worthy to receive our praise!

Questions For Your Kids …

Did Mary ride a donkey to Bethlehem?
Maybe, but there are other possibilities. The Bible doesn’t say how she arrived in Bethlehem. It only says that she came with Joseph.

Did Jesus cry when He was a Baby?
These words are part of a beautiful song: “Away in a manger, the baby awakes, but little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes.” The Bible does not directly say whether or not Jesus cried when He was born.

Did three kings come to visit Jesus?
We don’t know if any kings visited Jesus. The Bible mentions three costly gifts that magi (wise men) from the East presented—gold, frankincense, myrrh. This doesn’t necessarily indicate how many people came to visit Jesus when he was staying in Bethlehem.

Which question would you like to ask Mary …

  • What was it like watching Jesus pray?
  • Did Jesus ever hang out with His older cousin John (the Baptist)?
  • Did Jesus like girls?
  • Did Jesus ever mention the flood when He saw a rainbow?
  • Was Jesus a “straight-A” student?
  • Did you ever put Jesus in a “time-out”?
  • How did Jesus respond when He stubbed His toe?
  • When did you tell Jesus’ brothers and sisters about His birth?

God’s richest blessings to you and your family this very special Christmas!

Mark Steiner
Children’s Ministry Resources

It Began in a Manger, Published by Word Publishing, © 1995 by Max Lucado. Questions for Mary based on “Twenty Five Questions for Mary” from God Came Near © 1987 by Max Lucado.

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