The little house looked dark compared to all the others. There were no festive decorations in the yard and only a single string of lights decorated the front windows. It didn’t seem like the owners were doing much celebrating.
It was Christmas Eve, and Sylvia and her family were going door-to-door singing carols. After hours of trudging, they came to the dark, little house. They began singing, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” hoping to bring someone to the door, but it didn’t. Then, “Joy to the World.” Still, no-one. Just as they turned to leave, they heard a voice call, “Wait! Don’t leave!”
A smiling, unkempt, elderly woman opened the door. She invited them in for a refreshing drink. Sylvia noted the living room was empty. There wasn’t even a chair to sit on.
The woman explained that it had been a hard year for her and her husband, but that they still wanted to celebrate Christmas. They had bought the single string of lights and the ingredients for a homemade Christmas pudding.
My heart was touched when Sylvia told me this story. Here was an old couple too poor to afford furniture, yet they still found a reason to celebrate Christmas!
Regardless of how hard this year has been for you, you have a reason to celebrate, too. While it’s sometimes tempting to think about what we don’t have during the festive season, it’s actually the best time to think of what we do have—what the true meaning of Christmas is. When we think of God sending His Son, Jesus, to save a hurting world, we can’t help but celebrate!
The birth of a King
I have a friend who’s an anaesthetist and has assisted in many births. She told me, “Every time I help in a birth, I feel that I’m witnessing a miracle.”
If we think a human birth is a miracle, just imagine Jesus’ birth: the divine Son of God left perfect heaven and became an embryo inside Mary, to be born into a very imperfect world.
According to the Bible, Jesus was not created; rather, He has always existed. Calling Jesus “the Word,” the apostle John writes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:1–3). John continues describing Jesus in verse 14: “So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son” (NLT).*
What is Jesus like?
Who is this Jesus whose birth we celebrate at Christmastime? The best way to answer this question is to look at His life while He lived here on earth. The Bible’s four Gospels describe Him as forgiving, compassionate and accepting.
Jesus is forgiving. One day a group of religious leaders brought a woman to Jesus who they said had been caught in the act of adultery. “The law of Moses says to stone her,” they said. “What do you say?” (John 8:5, NLT; Leviticus 20:10).
He said, “ ‘If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground."
“At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’"
“ ‘No one, sir,’ she said.
“ ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin’ ” (John 8:7–11).
Jesus doesn’t condemn us, either. He said, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17). Just as He forgave the woman, He will forgive you and me.
Jesus is compassionate. In Jesus’ day, leprosy was a disease for which there was no cure. Lepers were banished from family and society. But look at how Jesus treated a man with this dreadful disease: “Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. . . . Immediately he was cured” (Matthew 8:2, 3).
Jesus actually touched him! He could have healed him from a distance just by speaking. But He felt such compassion, He chose to physically touch him.
Jesus has compassion for you too. Jesus cares about whatever is “eating away” at your life. He’ll reach out to you; He will touch you deep inside and heal you.
Jesus is accepting. You might think Jesus would have associated only with people of good reputation—people who didn’t sin. But He was actually criticised for associating with sinners. A man named Levi invited Jesus to dinner. Levi had been a tax collector, so among the guests were more tax collectors as well as people of questionable reputation. “When the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with such scum?’
“When Jesus heard this, he told them, ‘Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but . . . sinners’ ” (Mark 2:16, 17, NLT).
Jesus stands ready to accept anyone. Though you aren’t perfect, He accepts you. And even better, it’s because you aren’t perfect that He wants to come into your life and help you change. He’s just waiting for you to ask.
Jesus’ amazing mission
These stories give us a glimpse of what Jesus is like. He came to earth and was born, then willingly died for us. He knew this was His mission when He left heaven and He gladly gave His life. But in a larger sense, His mission still isn’t over. He will come again to destroy evil forever and give us a recreated world to live in. Only then will His mission be complete.
This Christmas, you may feel that you don’t have much to celebrate—your life is an empty living room with only a few lights brightening it. But in reality, you have much more: you have the gift of Jesus. And that’s something to celebrate!
* Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013.