“He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.” (Isaiah 53:7-8 NKJV)
Why did Jesus come to earth? We celebrate His coming, His birthday even, although He probably wasn’t born on December 25. We love to talk about the little baby in a manger and we bristle when anyone says or does anything that might be perceived as a threat to the traditional Christmas story. Yet, this whole chapter from Isaiah reminds us that while we celebrate the baby who was born in a manger, Jesus came for one purpose: to be stricken for the transgressions of God’s people. Just as a point of reference, these are the verses that the Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip about. It was these verses that Philip used to tell him about Jesus. Jesus didn’t fight verbally when before Pilate, He suffered and ultimately died so that our sins would be forgiven. The real message of Christmas doesn’t end with the baby in the manger, it only begins there.The baby in the manger was pointing to the One who was afflicted and oppressed, died on the cross, and was ultimately resurrected as proof of His power over death.
What if, instead of snapping back at people who merely say, “Happy Holidays,” we smiled at them and thanked them. Sometimes I’ll thank them and say, “I celebrate the Christmas holiday, what holiday do you celebrate?” Do you think that will open up a conversation? Let’s face it, in our society, there are any different holidays celebrated this time of year and it doesn’t help the spread of the gospel if we become agents of the Christmas Enforcement Society. What if we stopped arguing about the secular practices of Christmas and took opportunities to point people to the crucified and resurrected Lord. What if we learned not to open our mouth in the face of what we might perceive to be harassment or persecution, and instead found ways to show the love of Jesus instead of the condemnation of Christians? I think our loving response to people might be more effective than success as members of the Christmas Enforcement Society.
Lord, help me celebrate the birth of Jesus by responding as He did when faced with adversity. Help me to show His love and grace to all people instead of trying to make them conform to the practices I follow.