Once when I was getting my haircut, the stylist was talking about Christmas and how busy a time of the year it is for her. She noted how she wasn’t feeling the spirit of Christmas at first, but once her tree was up and the yard was decorated she started to feel the “Christmas spirit.” Then she talked about the stress of going Christmas shopping, so she decided that she was going to get crock pots for all of her gift exchanges to make shopping easier. Apparently they were on sale at the time, and she was saying that “everyone could use a crock pot.” Then she looked at me as I sat in the barber’s chair and said, “Right?” After a moment of silence, she said, “You don’t do much cooking, do you?” I said, “My wife would probably like a crock pot.” (See, I am always thinking of my wife.)
If I got a crock pot for Christmas, it would probably be one of those items that got returned to the store for a refund. We’ve all had gifts that we’ve received but we really can’t use it or really don’t want it. These are gifts you return or re-gift.
Surprisingly, this is what happened when Jesus was born into our world. God gave us his Son. Jesus sacrificed heaven to come here to earth. He set aside his throne and his robes. Never was a gift given that was like this. Yet, it was largely rejected. John 1:10-11 says, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” Jesus was “rejected,” he was “returned.”
At Christmastime you might think, “Wait, Tyler, I disagree. Jesus is in songs we sing, His picture is on cards we send, and nativity sets can be seen everywhere.”
Maybe it’s that people like the Christmas Jesus. Ricky Bobby, the fictional NASCAR character in the movie Talladega Nights, at one point in the movie, says, “You can pray to whatever Jesus you want to. You can pray to the teenage Jesus or to the grown-up Jesus or the bearded Jesus. But I like the Christmas Jesus. I like praying to a cuddly little baby.”
That kind of reflects the spirit that a lot of people have about Jesus at this time of the year. They’re more open to Him because he’s not very threatening and He doesn’t put any demands on us. It’s just a story of a sweet baby born and placed in a manger. But eventually the Christmas Jesus becomes the crucified Christ. They beat him beyond recognition, they pressed a crown of thorns into his skull, and they nailed him to a cross. It’s easy to accept the Christmas Jesus, but it’s a little harder to accept the crucified Jesus.
In December I’m going to preach a message series that reminds us of why Jesus came to earth, who He is, what He has to offer, and for whom He came. Please join us each Sunday as we worship the gift of God’s Son.
Working together to proclaim God’s gift to the world,