We evangelicals make the Christmas story warm, cozy, and inviting.  Everything that Christ’s birth and infancy was not.

Mary’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy could not but shame the family in the community.  Her story of the angel’s visit didn’t make the situation better.  She was probably sent away to Zacharias and Elizabeth to hide the shame.

Joseph, whom Mary was to marry, was also shamed by Mary’s swelling belly.  He wanted to break the engagement to protect his family’s honorable reputation.

The “inn” of Bethlehem was not a hotel but the home of a distant relative of Joseph’s.  Reservations had certainly been made.  “Sorry, no room” was more than likely the intentional expression of hostility toward Joseph for marrying an ‘unfaithful’ woman and bringing dishonor to the family.

Finally, this pious Jewish family has to flee to Egypt of all places because the King of Judea wants to murder the long-awaited Messiah who threatens his throne.

Cold rejection, not warm welcome, continues through Jesus’ ministry (even His family thought He had gone crazy!) until one of His own betrays Him, the Sanhedrin sells Him as a terrorist threat, and Rome, shrugging its shoulders, frees a real terrorist and crucifies Jesus to quiet a rising political storm.

John draws attention to the theme of rejection at the outset of his book.
            He 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.
(John 1.10-11)

“But to all who did receive Him,” John says, “He gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1.12)

The question is not, “Would you like to escape eternal hell?”
The question is not, “Would you like to go to heaven when you die?”
Who doesn’t want to escape suffering and be happy forever???
These are easy questions directed to selfish motives.  
They are the wrong questions.  Neither Jesus nor the apostles asked them.

Wanting to escape hell and go to heaven is not the same thing as wanting to receive Jesus.  The right question, the crucial question is “Do you want Christ?”.

The world doesn’t really want Christ.  The world wants the blessings He brings – relief from its demons and its ills, plates overflowing with bread and fish, the sweetness of wine when the blandness of water was expected.  
But it doesn’t want Him, to accept Him for who He really is.  
Because when you do that … well, that engine hauls a lot of heavy freight.

If that baby in the manger born into poverty and shame is the God Who created the universe, if you put aside the humble appearances and believe Jesus is God-become-man, then Jesus, the Christ, the King, is worthy of your adoration, your worship, your obedience, and your lifelong loyalty and service.
Want Him – receive Him, believe in Him, follow Him – and Jesus gives you the right to become a child of God and all that comes with that, including a home eternal in the heavens and rejection in this world that isn’t.

O come let us adore Him!




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