What we celebrate at Christmas is that Jesus came to us – our God with skin on!
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Note: The inspiration of this devotion came from a sermon by the Rev. Robert Bugbee, president, Lutheran Church—Canada, Winnipeg, Manitoba, as printed in the Concordia Pulpit, Volume 28, Park 1, Series B, Copyright © 2016 by Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Our world is a mess! And not only have we not done much to fix it, we’re the ones who have dumped so much sorrow into it.
We frequently don’t care much about other people or even about God. We’ve made quite clear time and again that we’re going to live our lives our own way, regardless of the consequences.
Now the consequences are here, lying around us like broken pieces for everyone to see: nation invading nation, violence and hatred sometimes even within our marriages or our families!
Human sin has made a horrible mess of everything.
And God knew it would take far more than just another preacher . . . or diplomat . . . or educator . . . to fix it all.
God sent exactly what we needed on the first Christmas.
Wriggling on the straw of a manger is not merely cute little baby Jesus, like some character out of a storybook.
Wriggling on the straw is the eternal God come down to our world to rescue us helpless people by his living, his dying, and his glorious rising again.
He’s as human as human can be, while still being fully God – truly God with skin on!
By being fully human, Jesus grew up and faced the real disappointment of being rejected, the real pangs when they spiked his body tight to a cross. He poured out real blood in a real, ugly death.
Yet this slumbering infant of Bethlehem’s manger is, at the same time, the true God who has all the authority in heaven and earth to tell you, “Your sins are forgiven.”
It’s exactly as St. John puts it: “To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
You don’t have that right on your own. You’re a sinner, just as I am a sinner. God doesn’t owe you a dime!
But Jesus Christ gives this right to you as a free gift. He gives it to you because of who he is and what he has done.
This is the most incredible thing that has ever happened! No wonder we dress our church up in festival white, decorate like crazy, practice great music, and cannot get our fill of the songs of joy and gladness!
But in the midst of this incredibly good news, John says something that drops like a stone on the floor. “He [the Christ] was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (vv 10–11).
The people of Bethlehem didn’t know about his gift to them. They took no notice of him; made no room in the inn for his mother. The very people he came to rescue had other things to worry about, thank you very much.
“He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (v 11).
You’ll find this to be true even today in bright, cozy-looking houses and in the lives of people who are up to their ears in Christmas trappings. And maybe, just maybe, it has been that way for too long in the house that has your address on the door. “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (vv 11–12).
You know why he came, my brothers and sisters. Jesus came to be believed in and trusted. He came for you to lean on. He came to be the gift of God, not just for the general public or for some other person out there. He didn’t come just for people who have always been everything they should have been. He’s come for you.
This is the ultimate gift we unwrap at Christmas. The Christ Child, the great Christmas gift from heaven. He is your God with skin on, for you, whoever you are . . . whether you’ve never received this gift before, or even if you did receive it long ago but then let your love for him fade.
He is here for you, now. Jesus is your God with skin on!
Heavenly Father, thank you for the ultimate Christmas gift – becoming our God with skin on! Someone we can relate to, someone we can hold on to. Help me to never take this gift for granted. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
© 2017 True Men Ministries