Over the past several weeks I’ve spent some time reading through the story of Christ’s birth. It’s a story that transcends both time and history and is one that I look forward to teaching my son every Christmas season as he grows older.
He may only be a little over a year old, but my wife and I already have him playing with a plastic manger scene. Granted, the barn animals often trade places with Mary and Joseph, and keeping up with baby Jesus has proved to be nearly impossible.
After reading through the story this Christmas season, I’ve discovered more and more that it isn’t just a good story or an important historical account. I don’t want to just teach my son about the fact that there were three gifts brought by wise men, and that Jesus was born in a manger, and that Jesus’ mother and father was named Mary and Joseph. I want him to know the lessons that are buried within the story and the true meaning of Christmas that’s to be found. There are countless lessons to be drawn, but here are three in particular I hope to teach my son.
1. It’s Better to Give Than Receive
Prioritizing giving over receiving is a completely counter-cultural idea. Materialism is slowly invading the meaning of Christmas, and while I want my son to look forward to opening gifts on Christmas morning, I also want him to learn to prioritize giving. When Jesus came to earth He came with the goal to give, not to receive. He gave sight to the blind, He gave health to the sick, He gave life to the dead, and ultimately He gave His life in order that we might have eternal life. There’s no greater gift, and if my son learns nothing else about Christmas, I hope it’s that.
“Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.” Isaiah 53:10
2. We’re Called to Serve Rather Than Be Served
When Jesus was born as a baby in a manger, He was born with a mission. But it wasn’t a mission where He would be celebrated as the hero and lauded for His strength and power. In fact, it was just the opposite. He spent His entire life on earth as a servant, He was rejected by His own hometown, and He spent some of His final moments washing the feet of His disciples. We’re called to follow this example, and while it may not look glamorous or attractive by appearance, it’s the only way to find true fulfillment.
“Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28
3. It’s Better to Be Known By God Than Be Noticed By Others
If you think about it, the fact that Jesus was born in a stable instead of a palace is a little odd. Jesus came to earth, God in the flesh, but there were no loud announcements or marketing campaigns. The only ones given notice and invited to take witness were some neighboring shepherds humbly watching some sheep in a field. It’s a stark contrast to the world we live in where the need to be noticed is at an all time high.
I can only imagine that this trend will continue as my son grows older, but I hope to always teach him to find his identity in Christ, not the opinions of others. Because when you’re noticed by God — you’re set free from having to be noticed by others.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 5:5-6
As my son grows older, I don’t want him to just be able to recount the historical facts of the Christmas story or name the three gifts brought by the wise men or simply quote some scripture found in the Book of Luke. I want him to be able to live out these lessons. I want him to know the story, but more than that, I want him to know the Savior that is found within the story.