The Word became flesh and lived among us. (John 1:14, New Revised Standard Version)
Christmas Day, December 25, 2022
The Galactic Swirl. First observed in 1845 by William Parsons, the Third Earl of Rosse.
Maye and I grew up in a small border county seat town in South Texas but have lived in seven different cities over the past 30 years because of ministry-related appointments and assignments. As we meet and talk with people in the cities and neighborhoods we move into to live, the question, “What brought you here?” inevitably comes up.
This Christmas, I find myself meditating on what brought Jesus to live here; on earth, that is.
Jesus, says Scripture was with God, and was God in the beginning, before time and all of creation began (Jn. 1:1). He took on human form, became flesh and was born in Bethlehem but grew up in the small forgotten and obscure village of Nazareth for the first thirty years of his life. The Message Bible translation says, “Jesus moved into the neighborhood.”
If Bethlehem was a “little town,” as the traditional Christmas hymn suggests, Nazareth was even smaller. Nazareth is not even mentioned in the Bible outside of New Testament references. The gospel writers had to explain that Nazareth was a small town in the region of Galilee because few people knew the rural, slow-paced village existed.
Nathanael, a disciple of Jesus, first asked, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” when told by Philip that the long-awaited Messiah was Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth. Jesus’ foes belittled him by calling him “Jesus of Nazareth.” To deter insurrections and further humiliate the Jews, Pilate had an inscription written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek and put on the cross that read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” (Jn. 19:19).
So, the question I’ve been meditating on this Christmas is, what brought Jesus to live on earth – to move into the neighborhood? After all, in this vast and ever-expanding universe, our earth is minuscule, situated within the Milky Way Galaxy, one of an estimated 350-billion large galaxies that houses about 30-billion-trillion stars; that is 30,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars!
The answer to what brought Jesus here and led him to move into our earthly neighborhood and live among us is a mystery; the mystery of God’s care and love for us. The Psalmist contemplates the mystery of God’s care and love for us when he asks, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established, what are human beings that your mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? (Ps.8:3-4). Jesus further adds to our appreciation and understanding of the depth and extent of God’s care and love for creation and humanity when he declares that God who cares and knows when one sparrow falls to the ground also knows the number of hairs on our head, cares for us, and loves us (Mt. 10:29-31).
What brought Jesus to move into and live in our earthly neighborhood was God’s love and care for us. Jesus came to show us a better way of being human in the world. He came save a world laying in and suffering from broken-heartedness caused by sin and error. Jesus came to redeem us from lostness, aimlessness, suffering, sin, confusion, hurt, and our bent toward conflict and war. He did and continues to show us how to love one another through his law of love and gospel of peace.
Whenever Maye and I move into a new community and neighborhood and people we meet ask us, “What brought you here?,” we eventually get around to saying, “Christ did!” We’re here on his behalf to live among you and share the good news with you – if you do not yet already know – that God care for and loves you, you are not alone: the Lord is with you; have hope.
Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad!