Every birth is special. It’s a time of wonder and amazement. I suppose that when he or she first holds a newborn, just about every parent thinks about the potential of this new life. What is this child born to do? Who will this child become? Will this child live up to its potential?
We can hope. We can dream. We can speculate, but except in very rare cases, we don’t know what lies ahead for a child. We don’t know the direction he will take. We don’t know the path that God has chosen for him. We don’t know what he was born to accomplish.
All over the world people are getting ready to celebrate Jesus’ birth. One of the things which makes Jesus’ birth unique is that his parents were told ahead of time who He was and what His purpose in life was. The angel told Mary, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:32-33 NIV)
The angel told Joseph, “...you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21 NIV)
The angel told the shepherds, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11 NIV)
This infant, this newborn child was born to be the Christ, the Savior – the person who would rescue mankind from their sin. What Mary and Joseph probably did not realize at the time, was that in order to become our Savior, Jesus had to die. I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that Jesus’ birth only has significance because of His death. Without His death, His birth is meaningless. One of our Christmas carols is absolutely correct when it states, Jesus was “born to die.” (Ring the Bells) That was the purpose of His birth.
What did Jesus’ death accomplish? Through it, or because of it, we can be saved from our sins. But it also does something else. Through it we can reach our full potential. It is a source of hope. You see, none of us has lived up to the potential we had when we were born. We all have fallen short. We haven’t fulfilled the purpose God had for us when we were born.
However, because of Jesus’ death we can be reborn. He offers us a new birth. All of us who have been baptized into His death rise to walk in new life. As that same Christmas carol says, Jesus came “to bring mankind His love, new birth.”
In this new life we can reach our potential. We can become what God intended. As the Apostle John writes, “...when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2 NIV)
Jesus never asked us to celebrate His birth, but He did ask us to remember His death. That is why each week we eat a piece of bread which reminds us of His body which He sacrificed for us. That’s why we drink a cup of juice which represents His blood which cleanses us from sin.
When we celebrate Jesus’ birth let’s remember why He was born. That it is His death which gives His birth meaning. Today as we remember His death, let’s also remember that it is because of His death we can have new life, a second birth, another chance to become what God always intended us to be. His death gives us hope.
Peter writes, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you,” (1 Peter 1:4 NIV)