Luke 2:6-7 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
What good is a baby?
Have you ever felt alone at Christmas? Maybe you really were alone. No one to celebrate with. At least, no one who wanted to celebrate with you. Maybe you were surrounded by family. Or friends. Or at least other people. But no one to talk to. Not really. Not the way you needed. And now it’s Christmas again. Are you alone? And if you’re not alone tonight… what about a week from now? Two? Do you struggle with being alone? It’s Christmas! We’re supposed to be happy! Look! A baby! But how does a baby born on Christmas help me when I am alone?
I know about babies. They don’t help. It’s the parents are the ones who sacrifice everything for the baby. The parents give up their time. They give up their sleep. They give up their sanity.
And a baby? What does a baby give? A baby often gives joy. To see that new child can bring a smile to a loving parent’s face. But a baby doesn’t help his parent’s sleep schedule. It doesn’t help his mother’s work schedule. It doesn’t help his father’s free time.
The baby doesn’t sacrifice for its parents. No, it’s the other way around. And you can tell how much the parents love the baby by how much they’re willing to give up for it. No, I can’t go out. Yes, I know I didn’t go out last week. My child is too important for that. No, I can’t purchase that car. I need one that can fit a car seat.
Having said all that… what does a baby born on Christmas have to offer me? The parents are the ones who sacrifice and give to the baby, not the other way around.
Except this time.
This baby has already sacrificed so much for his parents. This baby already gave up so much for us. This isn’t just any baby. This is Jesus. This is God. And he’s set aside the full use of his abilities as God. How many of us like giving up abilities? How many of us would choose to loose our ability to control our bladders? Yet someone has to change Jesus’ diapers. And he chose that humiliation. The one who was powerful enough to put the sun in the sky can’t even lift up his own head.
If it’s true that you can tell how much one person loves another by how much they’re willing to give up, think about how much Jesus loves you. [Jesus], being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (Philippians 2:6-7) And that’s what makes this baby so special. Most of the time, the parents sacrifice for their child. This time, the child has already sacrificed so much for the parents. He’s already made himself nothing. That’s how much Jesus loves you. He gave up all his power… for you.
Of course, if this was all, we’d still celebrate, but there’s so much more. Christmas is just the beginning of the baby’s story. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:8) This baby grew up. This baby lived a perfect life. And he gave even that up. The amazing thing about this baby isn’t that he was born on Christmas. The amazing thing isn’t how much he’d already given up. The amazing thing was how much more he chose to give up. He gave up his life. He sacrificed his own soul for his parents. For his brothers and sisters. For us. He took our sins on him. He took everything we deserved.
If it’s true that you can tell how much one person loves another by how much they’re willing to give up, think about how much God loves you. He chose to die in your place. He chose to stand in our place, sacrificing himself so that we wouldn’t have to die. For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, so that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. For every time we’ve been guilty of not loving, God loved us and took our sins on himself.
And that’s why this baby is so special. And that’s how he helps us at Christmas. When you’re feeling unloved, come back to the manger and see the God who gave up so much for us. But don’t stop at the manger. Keep going. Keep walking with him as he grows up and dies… and lives again for us. Oh, yes. That little baby whose birthday we celebrate tomorrow is still alive. His love is still real. And isn’t that the kind of person you want to spend Christmas with? Someone who really does love you? Isn’t that the kind of person you want to spend your entire life with?
If it’s true that you can tell how much one person loves another by how much they’re willing to give up, consider Jesus. Consider how much he loves you. Rejoice, not just on Christmas. Every day. Come and spend time with the baby. Every week we gather here as sons and daughters of the King. You are not alone. Come, join us on a walk. Walk with Jesus over the next few months as he grows to be an adult. Walk with him toward the cross… and beyond, to the empty grave.
You are loved. No matter how your heart feels, no matter what it tells you, you are loved. God is bigger than your heart. Tonight, he is the size of a newborn infant. A newborn King. What good is a baby? This baby gave up so much for you. And that shows you how much he already loves you. Celebrate that love.
Merry Christmas. Amen.