The day has finally come. Presents sit under the tree, carols play on the radio, and somewhere in Bethlehem a long time ago, a nervous couple hold their newborn for the very first time. There are many firsts this evening. First birth, first child, first time a god has given up his majestic throne to clumsily grab at hay and scream at the world around him. The day is far from over, and the magic, the miracles, has just begun.

The significance of Christmas intrigues me sometimes. Certainly Jesus’ teachings and miracles are also worth celebrating and obeying, and we can learn far more from the rest of Jesus’ life than his very beginning. All we have is a new family, some terrified and rejoicing shepherds, a few curious wise men—a scatter of transformed people that continue to expand as the years go by. This small spark is the very beginning, the first chapter to the greatest transformation the world has ever been swept away by. The real fire of changed lives will begin much later as Jesus begins his ministry, and later as he becomes our sacrifice. The birth of Jesus on this chaotic but peaceful night introduces the birth of the cross, our new lives in Christ. The swaddling cloths will be traded in for a mocking purple robe and a thorny crown. The dusty, smelly stable will be replaced by a dusty, dark tomb…

…and then light! Glorious, bright, living life! Crosses, crowns, tombs—transformed into new hearts, forgiveness, and life everlasting. Gloria, hallelujah, glory to God in the highest! The angels sang truth in the very beginning, above awed shepherds on that significant night. The birth of Jesus marks the start of this amazing, heart-wrenching love story. This is the first chapter that will lead to the climax. Hold on tight—it’s a bumpy ride.

“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” (Luke 2:14)

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