The Courageous Story of Christmas
The story of Christmas is a story of the incredible courage - both Christ's courage and also that of the ordinary men and women who took part in His story.
He could have remained in heaven, on His everlasting throne and separate from our world of sin and pain and death. Surrounded by hosts of angels, enjoying the eternal presence of His Father and the Holy Spirit, Jesus did not have to come to earth.
But yet, Jesus knew that the world needed a Savior, and as the Son of God, He knew He was the only One who could fulfill this role. He knew that His Father was calling Him to go, was calling Him to be the Sacrifice that would redeem man to God. Long ago, in eternity past, He had made the choice to come to earth and take up human flesh, to become a man and to suffer alongside us, to become obedient and die on the cross. He chose to become man so that we could become like God.
Sometimes when we think of Christmas, our minds and hearts become full of sentimental feelings and thoughts. We think of precious times with family and exciting gifts. Or when we think of Jesus being born, we think of singing angels and silent nights and a little baby born in a manger. These thoughts are all true, but we should be careful not to let the other aspects of Christmas – the risks and challenges – be stripped away. Jesus made a choice to step into a world of pain and conflict. There was nothing sentimental about His choice.
One message of Christmas is thus Courage – there would be no Christmas without the tremendous bravery of Christ.
The Cast of Christmas
Think of other people in the “cast of Christmas” – those who are integrally involved in the Christmas story. We see a theme of brave choices being made, that created the perfect conditions for Christ’s coming into our world.
First we have Mary – a young lady, probably in her teens, who was chosen to be the mother of the Messiah. When the angel Gabriel told her she had been chosen to bring birth to the Son of God, she could have begged God to change His mind. She could have told the angel that she couldn’t bear the reproach of being a single, unwed mother; that she couldn’t image the responsibility of being mother to the Savior; she was just too young to handle all of this.
Imagine Joseph, finding out that his promised bride was now pregnant. As a good man, he had decided to end their engagement quietly, and not publicly shame Mary for her presumed unfaithfulness. But then Gabriel appeared to Joseph, telling him that Mary had not been unfaithful, but that the child in her was the Son of God. Joseph could have balked, he could have run, he could have decided that there was no way he was going to raise Jesus as his own son.
There were also shepherds, out in their field, doing their mundane work on another mundane night. As they were watching their sheep, suddenly an angel appeared and the glory of God shone on every side, terrifying these hardened men. The angel told these shepherds not to fear, but to rejoice – the Savior had been born. A whole host of angels then lit up the sky, praising God and declaring His glory. Would the shepherds join the rejoicing, or continue hiding in fear?
Then we have the wisemen, who studied the sky and realized a new king had been born in Israel. They were travelers from afar, looking for the newborn king, when they were summoned to come and see Herod, the most powerful man in the region. Herod commanded them to tell him as soon as they found the child. The wisemen realized Herod meant to harm the child, but would they take the risk of not telling him where Jesus was? Would they return to their countries without reporting back to him, knowing that he could have them arrested and killed for defying his command?
“As we celebrate this festive season, let’s remember that Christmas is not just about fuzzy good feelings. It’s a celebration of Immanuel – God coming down to be with us, and be one of us.”
Every person in this story ended up choosing the path of bravery.
Mary told the Lord, “Be it to me according to Your Word,” and became the mother of Jesus.
Joseph chose to raise Jesus as his own son, playing a major role in protecting Mary and her Child during the all-important early years of Jesus’ life.
The shepherds decided to join the angels in their rejoicing – they went to visit Mary, Joseph, and Jesus at the manger, and spread word to those around them that the Messiah had been born.
And the wisemen worshipped Jesus by giving Him their gifts, and then risked the wrath of Herod by returning to their home countries without reporting back to Him.
These men and women stepped out in faith to seize the destiny that God had laid out before them. 2000 years later, we still tell their stories and marvel at their faithfulness, because they didn’t go on the path of least resistance – they went down the path of courageous obedience. Their courage intersected with the Courage of Jesus, and brought them together at the lowly manger where Jesus was born.
A Courageous Christmas for You
As we celebrate this festive season, let’s remember that Christmas is not just about fuzzy good feelings. It’s a celebration of Immanuel – God coming down to be with us, and be one of us. And it’s also a time to remember those who took part in the story of Jesus, ordinary men and women who said Yes to an extraordinary God.
What courageous decisions do you need to make this Christmas? Who can you spread the love of Jesus with? Who will you get a chance to speak to at your family or office gatherings? Be inspired by the men and women who all said “yes” to God in the Christmas story, and be empowered by the same Spirit that enabled them.
Christmas also is a time when we are getting ready to cross over into the new year. Many of you reading this have been called by God to start something new, but perhaps you’ve been procrastinating, afraid of the risks and pains of the new venture. Perhaps 2020 is the year for you to step into your calling and give birth to the vision that God has given you. Be assured that when you obey His calling courageously, you are never alone! Because of Christmas, we are assured of Immanuel – “God is with us.” He is with you as you walk into His calling. We can be brave because He has walked ahead of us.
Merry Christmas from Brave
All of us here on the Brave team want to wish you a Merry Christmas. As we cross over into 2020, we have lined up a number of interviews with Champions to inspire and encourage you to live out your faith in whatever sphere you are in.
Merry Christmas from all of us here at Brave, and we wish you a fruitful new year!
Written by Brave Editor Cameron Walcott