If you are like most people during this time of year, that awkward moment between Thanksgiving and Christmas where life seems to speed up, you have thousands of things on your mind, on your plate and on that famous to-do list.
But this Christmas season should not be about the hustle and bustle, it should be about peace and goodwill. Have you ever wondered why Christ came as a baby? Maybe the simple reason is because it required patience. Salvation required patience. Let that sink in for a moment. In the world of Baby Jesus, religious leaders had been looking for the Messiah for generations, like thousands of years’ worth of generations. Then comes the Messiah, as the song infamously reminds us, “away in a manger” and apparently, “no crying did he make.” I’m not so sure on that last one being a parent of two, newborns rarely sleep all night without a peep.
But in any case, Jesus came to the world as a baby and started the story of the redemption of mankind suckling at His mother’s breast. At the beginning of this restoration of man and God, Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father, was told to name the baby in Mary’s womb as, “…Jesus, for He will save His people form their sins.” (Matthew 1:21 NKJV). The early beginnings of the purpose of Jesus are spelled out by this angel – the purpose of this child would be to save mankind from their own sins. This was the Messiah, “wrapped in swaddling clothes” (Luke 2:12). And the only way that God could come to earth to save humanity from their sins, was to take the risk and grow up in this world, being “tempted as we” (Hebrews 4:15) are in every fashion, overcoming the power of sin, dying on the cross to rescue humanity and raise again on the third day. This is the Gospel story that the angels sang to the shepherds some 2,000 years ago (Luke 2). Salvation required patience, from birth to the death of the cross and resurrection, some 30 or so years passed on this earth.
God had to be with us, Immanuel (Matthew 1:23), in order to save us. Many times in our rushing around in this awkward time of year we forget the true meaning of Christmas. We may say that, “Jesus is the reason for the season” but in reality, the patience of salvation is the reason for the season. A Child being born by a virgin in Bethlehem started the earthly process of salvation of all mankind – the Son of God dying and raising again in Jerusalem is the finishing of the justification of sin. Salvation requires patience, God is not slow to return and take us to Heaven, just as He was not slow in coming to earth as a baby, but His plan of salvation requires patience, “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9).
So where does that put us as we speed toward the 25th of December? Simply, we need to pause, more than once a week, maybe even more than once a day, and just remember. We need to remember that as patient as Jesus is in His story of redemption, we too need to be patient. We need to be patient with people who have hurt us, we need to be patient with people who annoy us, we need to be patient with traffic and the other annoyances of life. We need to just rest assured that if the God who spoke the heavens into existence can be patient with us, we too, in following His example, need to be patient as well. In this hurried time of year, we need to slow down. We need to picture the Baby Jesus laying in a manger, wrapped and sleeping. We need to picture the years in between the nativity and Jesus at age 12 talking with the rabbis at His synagogue. We need to imagine the years between 12 and His baptism, almost two whole decades, where He was probably going about His earthly father’s business in the carpenter shop before being called to His heavenly Father’s business in salvation of mankind. We need to be patient with ourselves and with others- recognizing that as we have treated the least of these people, we treat Jesus the same way (25:40). Let us chill this holiday season, let us also remember: Salvation takes patience.