More mundane, but no less wearying, tens of millions of Americans struggle with the painful reality of being unemployed or underemployed, unable to provide for the needs of themselves or their families, relying on government handouts and the charity of others to make ends meet the best they can. We also face the prospect of the tax burden rising next week, making it ever more difficult just to meet the necessities of life. There is an internal war underway as well, with our politics highly polarized, causing great contention among us, leading to harsh rhetoric and angry recriminations.
As a nation, we also struggle with “social problems”, which threaten the very fabric of our society; rampant drug use, crime, and enormous numbers of unwed pregnancies which lead to systemic and generational poverty. These are reported 24/7 in the media, and over time it drains the soul, and leaves us feeling despaired and hopeless.
But there IS hope…
Two thousand years ago, a young Jewish carpenter named Joseph made the trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem to be taxed, as required by the decree of Caesar Augustus, the great sovereign of the Roman Empire, which had imposed Roman rule upon the Jewish people. Caesar, having demanded not only the taxing, but an accounting (census) of the people, Joseph traveled with his wife, Mary, who was heavy with child. At that time, one can only imagine how arduous for a pregnant woman was the task of traveling many miles through the desert, with no source of transportation other than walking or on the back of a donkey. Weary from travel, the young couple entered the gates of Jerusalem, seeking shelter and rest along with untold thousands of other Jews who’d also made the journey.
Yet there was no comfort for poor Mary as she felt the pains of the imminent birth of her son. Joseph, seeking refuge for his dear wife, desperately sought shelter, but none was to be found. With no room in any off the inns, Joseph took Mary and found safety and respite, or as much as could be found in those circumstances, in a barn, surrounded by animals. A short time later, Mary brought her precious son into the world, where she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and lay him in a manger.
As touching as this story is, had not there been greater import in this birth, the story would have been lost in the annals of human history two millennia past. Yet, that was not all to the story, and as the story unfolds we learn the true importance of this humble birth. For, as history records, there were shepherds abiding in the fields that night, tending their sheep, when an angel of the Lord appeared before them and revealed the joyous news that would change the history of the world forever. The shepherds, trembling with fear, were soon in awe as the angel revealed to them his message of peace and joy. Speaking to them, his countenance radiating the glory of the God who had sent him, he declared:
“ ‘Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’”
And so it was that God proclaimed to the world the arrival of his holy Son, the Messiah, the Savior of the world, born through the lineage of David, in the city of David. Those shepherds, heeding the words of the angel, traveled to Bethlehem to witness for themselves the birth of the Christ child, foretold by prophets of old, attested by the bright, new star shining in the east, leading the three kings, the magi Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar, to journey from the east bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh; gifts fit for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Yet, except for these precious few who were blessed to understand the significance of this birth, the world still remained in darkness.
For as miraculous as was the birth of the Christ child, the true importance of his birth would come years later. Many may have begun to suspect that there was something special about this boy child as he stood, as a 12-year old, among the greatest religious scholars of the day and taught them the meaning of the scriptures and ancient prophecies with such clarity and insight as to render these men in awe. Later, many would witness Christ perform miracles, turning water into wine, making the blind to see, the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, the lepers to be cleansed, and most miraculously of all, the dead to arise and walk again. Surely no man could wield such power, perform such miracles, save he be the Son of the living God!
Yet even then the mission was not fulfilled. For God sent his Son into the world not to heal the body, but the spirit. He was sent to save the world from the wages of sin, and from the grasp of that great adversary of light and good, Lucifer. That mission would lead Christ, the greatest of all, to subject himself to horrific indignities and torment. He would bleed from every pore as he suffered in Gethsemane, he would be beaten, mocked, spat upon, and have a crown of razor-sharp thorns thrust into his skull by the Roman centurions. He would be whipped and scourged, and when such humiliation and torture came to an end, he would be forced to carry his own cross, as far as he was able, to the hill of Golgotha, where great spikes would be driven through his hands and feet and, the cross raised, the Savior of the world was left to slowly die in terrible agony, until his work was finished and he gave up the ghost. Three days later he would arise from the tomb and walk the Earth again, the resurrected God made flesh, fulfilling his mission upon the Earth.
So, as we enjoy this Christmas season, let us remember the true meaning. For as much as we love the lights and the carols and the gifts, the foods and the merriment, the holiday has a much deeper meaning. It reminds us of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Great Redeemer, He who would be called “Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” It reminds us that, as dark as our days may seem at times, as tumultuous as the world has become, there is one who has overcome the world, and more importantly, has overcome death and sin. No travail we face is too great for the King of Kings. It was Christ who was sent to save us from the darkness of sin which separates us from the Father. Through him we may be healed in the spirit as well as the flesh. So in this Christmas season, may I add my testimony to the millions who’ve come before me and declare that “He lives who once was dead, the great Jehovah!” May each of us have His light within our hearts, and seek each day to do his will, by doing good to our fellow man, and living as he taught us. As God gave us his Son as a gift, let our kindness and charity to others be our gift to God. Merry Christmas!
Louis DeBroux is a Taylorsville resident, married, with eight children. He is chairman of the Bartow County Republican Party. He owns Gatekeeper data backup and recovery. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.