Isn't it interesting how Jesus' popularity skyrockets for 5 weeks at the end of the year. Granted, the holiday vernacular has changed in recent years to bypass His name, and once in a while a baby Jesus is stolen from a nativity scene, but by and large, Jesus is a pretty popular guy in December. Now, this isn't to say that he's not a popular guy the remaining 47 weeks in a year, but clearly, this is the time of year where His name is heard more. To put it mildly, celebration of the birth of Christ is a big deal. Most likely, from the very place where you read this, there will be some sort of Christmas reminder nearby. That could be a nativity scene on your coffee table, Elvis Presley singing "Blue Christmas" in the background, or perhaps it's the array of lights assaulting all darkness from your neighbor's home. With all the fanfare and celebration that revolves around the Christmas season, you'd sure image the first Christmas was a big deal. However, that wasn't the case. The most influential person ever to walk the earth entered it among no fanfare. There weren't songs playing, there weren't elaborately decorated trees, his name wasn't in lights, and people weren't gathering to light candles the night before. No, when Jesus entered this world, it was not a big public event (even though there were prophesies). Simply, a boy was born in a barn, and some visitors arrived. As my former college professor said, "With all that he was and that he would be, you would have at least expected him to glow in the dark." Instead, he arrived like any other baby; crying and vulnerable.
Perhaps that is the reason that Jesus' popularity is so high during this season. Many of us like to think of the unassuming and vulnerable baby Jesus instead of the controversial and powerful grown up Jesus. Baby Jesus is sweet and soothing. Grown up Jesus, when you get to the core of his message, transforms your life. You see, we're not always comfortable with transformation, or change that alters our worldview. When the Jesus the man says "...any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33), he's suddenly not as sweet and soothing as he seemed as a baby. Jesus the man destroyed the former the lives of those who followed him and rebuilt new ones. The baby Jesus did not. Maybe that's why we latch onto his name during the Christmas season. We'll conveniently forget about the man who calls us love our enemies, give away our wealth, and concede our wants so that we can celebrate him as a baby by giving and receiving presents.
This year, let's not only celebrate the baby whose conception was immaculate and whose birth was unspectacular. Let's celebrate the arrival of the man who changed the world by loving people. Let's celebrate the arrival of the most influential man in history. Let's celebrate the man who brought redemption. Jesus, God incarnate.