How Christ’s Birth Reminds Us of Hope This Holiday Season
December 13, 2021

How Christ’s Birth Reminds Us of Hope This Holiday Season

By Margaret Rees-Jones, Advisory Board Member of The Rees-Jones Foundation

“Who can add to Christmas?
The perfect motive is that God so loved the world.
The perfect gift is that He gave His only Son.
The only requirement is to believe in Him.
The reward of faith is that
you shall have everlasting life.”
-Corrie Ten Boom

As I think about Christmas, I’m reminded of a time in 2014 when I traveled to Israel with my family to tour the Holy Land and to walk the same steps Jesus did so many years ago. The somber site of His potential burial and tomb, the saltiness of the Dead Sea, and the complex history of the Jewish people undoubtedly struck me.

But, what I recall most about the experience was the place where it is believed that Jesus was born: a manger in Bethlehem. There is a church there now, and tourists like us flock to the site every day. Visitors are shuffled in a line down to the cave-like area with a dirt floor where Mary likely labored until she laid Jesus in the manger, wrapped in cloths. What a miracle!

Surprisingly, I don’t recall the actual site of his birth moving me; rather, I was most moved by the wall of names in the entry that detailed the lineage of Jesus. I paused to read the names, the ones listed in Matthew 1 (MSG) that I so often hurry past. It goes like this:

          The family tree of Jesus Christ, David’s son, Abraham’s son: Abraham had Isaac, Isaac

          had Jacob, Jacob had Judah and his brothers, Judah had Perez and Zerah (the mother

          was Tamar), Perez had Hezron, Hezron had Aram, Aram had Amminadab, Amminadab

          had Nahshon, Nahshon had Salmon, Salmon had Boaz (his mother was Rahab), Boaz

          had Obed (Ruth was the mother), Obed had Jesse, Jesse had David…

          Jacob had Joseph, Mary’s husband, the Mary who gave birth to Jesus, the Jesus who was

          called Christ.

          There were fourteen generations from Abraham to David, another fourteen from David to

          the Babylonian exile, and yet another fourteen from the Babylonian exile to Christ.

I stood back, staring at the names. I couldn’t believe the specificity of it all, the weight of it: how each member of Jesus’ family was hand-chosen to represent the goodness and sovereignty of God. Jesus was born to a woman, the Virgin Mary, who married into this family, fulfilling the prophecy that a Savior from King David’s family line would forever be on the throne. I love the way The Message translation says it in Isaiah 9, long before His birth:

          The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. For those who lived in a

          land of deep shadows—light! Sunbursts of light!

          For a child has been born—for us! The gift of a son—for us! He’ll take over the running

          of the world. His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince

          of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there will be no limits to the wholeness

          he brings. He’ll rule from the historic David throne over that promised kingdom.

Prophesied in Isaiah, the birth of Jesus would turn the world upside-down, ushering in a new way to access the Father, to love others, to live a good, wise life, to be healed and made whole.

The word I am most drawn to in the passage of Isaiah that the translator repeats here is wholeness.

Wholeness is the opposite of brokenness. If something is whole, it is complete and perfect, nothing divided. Whether or not our families feel whole or broken to us right now, we know a God who values the institution of family, so much so, that He sent his own Son to be born and raised in a family just like our own in many respects, one that was imperfect and human.

Like us, Jesus had parents. He had brothers and cousins. And there were likely misunderstandings and conflicts in their relationships. Yet even as he experienced this human reality, His promise to us still is that He brings restoration and wholeness. In a word, He brings redemption!

What would it look like to live with this kind of hope inside of us—the Hope of Jesus?

If we truly lived with this Hope at the forefront of our minds and hearts every single day, I wonder if we would approach the holidays spent with family differently—less keeping score, more looking for the best, more forgiving, more willing to concede—this is a Love that never fails! I don’t know about you, but I want to love others with that kind of love this season, not my own unsteady, offended, conditional, and very human love.

Still, I know it is dangerously easy to look around at all the things in our lives and our world that are broken or imperfect, including our own families and even ourselves, and start to wonder where God is in the midst of it all.

It takes a whole lot of faith, hope and love to do otherwise in this world…and a good dose of courage! But, perhaps a better question we might ask ourselves is this: why would God send his Son, flesh and blood like us, a helpless baby, to a broken and hurting world? Why would He come to us, at all? John 1 (MSG) says it like this:

          The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory

          with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, generous inside and out,

          true from start to finish.

          John pointed him out and called, “This is the One! The One I told you was coming after me

          but in fact was ahead of me. He has always been ahead of me, has always had the first word.”

          We all live off his generous abundance, gift after gift after gift. We got the basics from Moses,

          and then this exuberant giving and receiving, this endless knowing and understanding—all this

          came through Jesus, the Messiah.

What generosity. What abundance. Ultimately, we know that Jesus coming into the world would eventually lead to His death and resurrection. His perfect sacrifice and defeat over death makes wholeness possible for us. Gift after gift after gift!

In the Gospel of John, we are reminded again of this relentless love:

“For here is the way God loved the world—he gave his only, unique Son as a gift.
So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life.”
– John 3:16 (TPT)

Jesus came into this world as a perfect baby, and He left it as the perfect example of who the Father is to us—compassionate, abounding in loving-kindness, so tenderly gracious, and rich in mercy!

As we look forward to Christmas, may we celebrate the immeasurable gift of Jesus and receive all that He has for us, may we see our families with a new sense of gratitude and love, and may we revel in the fact that God loves us enough to meet us, right here, right now, even in the brokenness of this world.

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