For surely it is not angels [Jesus] helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

Hebrews 2:16-17

 

Merry Christmas!

Today is, as you know, Christmas day. For millions of people around the world, it is a day of celebration and rejoicing.

It is for me, too, though this will be an unusual Christmas for my family and me. As I shared in last Wednesday’s devotion, my mother died three weeks ago. So, this will be the first Christmas in 59 years that I will not be with my mother.

My mom, in a Christmas sweater, and me, last Christmas, with a couple of Christmas “socks” in between us.

My mom, in a Christmas sweater, and me, last Christmas, with a couple of Christmas “socks” in between us. Photo used by permission from Mark D. Roberts. All rights reserved.

I will miss my mom for all sorts of reasons. Among them, is her love for Christmas. She threw herself into celebrating the birth of Jesus, whether by taking weeks to set up her elaborate Christmas village, or wearing Christmas sweaters, or creating joyful events for families at church, or filling our “socks” with all sorts of goodies. (Yes, my mother always referred to Christmas stockings as “socks.”) For the last thirty years, since the death of my dad in 1986, my mom and I shared a special Christmas tradition. At some point on Christmas day we would find a private moment and share together with tears how much we missed my dad. This year, that won’t happen. (I’m glad that my mom and my dad are together now. I just wish they were here with us.)

If you’ve lost a loved one, you know that the holidays can be particularly painful. You feel the gnawing emptiness of loss more around Thanksgiving and Christmas than during other times of the year. Yet, the loss we feel in this season can actually lead us into a deeper celebration of the good news of Christmas.

In this holiday, we celebrate Emmanuel, God with us, the Word of God made flesh in Jesus. God didn’t just look down upon us with mercy, but actually became one of us. Hebrews 2:17 clarifies that Jesus became like us, in fact, becoming “fully human in every way,” though, as Hebrews 4:14-15 notes, without sin. The Incarnation makes possible the salvation we receive through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

But the Incarnation also means that Jesus understands what it is like to be us. Jesus was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isa 53:3, KJV). For example, it’s likely that Jesus experienced the death of his earthly father, Joseph, since Joseph appears nowhere in the gospel accounts of Jesus’s life after his birth and boyhood. So, at Christmas we celebrate the amazing truth that God has become human, that God understands our experience, both our joys and our sorrows. When I grieve the loss of my parents today, I have in Jesus someone who gets it . . . who gets me, and who is with me, Emmanuel.

So, today I will rejoice and be glad. And I will weep and be sad. And I will thank God for becoming fully human in Jesus, thus understanding all that I am feeling and thinking this day. And I will thank him for the eternal life that we have because of Jesus, something my mom and dad know in a way I can only imagine.

May the Lord bless you today with his presence, peace, and joy! Amen.

 

Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online Bible commentaryThe Creation Has Become Subject to Evil (Hebrews 2:14–3:6)
Tagged with:
 

3 Responses to Christmas Good News!

  1. Corena says:

    Mark I understand. I turned 50 this year and lost both of my parents within 11 months of each other at age 9. I still miss them. May His love comfort you.

    A song to Jesus
    Born in a lowly manger
    Love came down to our human race
    To live a life of no pomp or wealth
    To die on a Cross He knew me well
    My Savior came that Christmas day
    And in my heart He is here to stay
    For nothing can ever take His place
    A love so pure and full of His grace.
    My wish this Christmas is for our world
    To know the Lord not just His birth.
    For in Him I ask to live this life
    That He has ordained and paid the price.
    My Messiah came to save us all
    He loved us then, He took the fall.
    He loves us now so we must live
    Gratefully content He loves us still
    That baby born so long ago walks on this earth today to show
    The Lion of Judah will never fail
    He showed us love and it will prevail!
    From my heart to our world His words I pen to say Happy birthday Jesus this Christmas day!
    –Corena Hall
    ✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨

  2. Dan Brown says:

    Mark, This post brought a tear to my eye as a result of hearing of your mother’s passing. I have a friend who is very sick this season and it has made me more sensitive to losses. Another friend reminded me that when Prince William went to the Queen during a painful time in his life, the Queen told the young prince that the absence of love is always grief. I hope the experience of love will be a great comfort to you during this great loss.

  3. Nancy & Paul says:

    A dear fulltime-worker brother in our sister Church just announced the “Promotion to Glory” of his dear wife on Christmas Eve, succumbing to cancer; they are in their 50’s.
    Many thanks, Mark, for your comforting and encouraging message on this Christmas Day; I’ll prayerfully forward it to him (Dexter).
    In appreciation of your e-ministry that reaches throughout the world, I hope you enjoy a small Christmas gift sent to your office, with love from Malaysia.