Recently, a story made its way around the internet from a man who admitted that he “sorta cheated” on his wife! He was shopping at Target at the time. In his own words: “As I went to pay I saw this woman in line that knocked me out. I thought, ‘Wow, some lucky guy is with her,’ and in a split second I realized it was my wife!” The husband went on to say, “…I was taken aback by how amazingly beautiful she is, once again. I believe I see it often, but today, not knowing she was at the store, I saw her with new eyes and just couldn’t believe I get to be her fella. It made me blush – but no one could see it under my huge monster Movember beard.”
In this honest man’s confession, we can appreciate the shared human problem of “seeing, but not truly seeing.” It is possible to assume a familiarity with someone and lose our sense of wonder over who they are, and who they invite us to be. We need new eyes.
Perhaps no person in history has been more “seen, but not truly seen” than Jesus Christ. His life and words have cast both shadow and light upon humanity, making him impossible to ignore, yet easy to take for granted. William Lecky, Historian (and skeptic), writes: “The simple record of three short years of active life has done more to regenerate and to soften mankind, than all the disquisitions (speeches) of philosophers, and than all the exhortations of moralists.” Two thousand years later we see Jesus, the small-town Jewish peasant, enshrined in music and the arts, espoused in religion and philosophy, polarized in politics, and dropped like a common expletive in nearly every movie. We need new eyes!
One of the most startling statements Jesus ever made was that, “Anyone who has seen me has seen (God) the Father!” (John 14:9) As Christmas Day approaches, we have an opportunity to be caught off guard by the God of Wonder and his invitation to be loved unconditionally! He comes to us wrapped, unexpectedly, in a manger! Below are five highlights from the Christmas story, as told in Matthew 1:18-2:1. I encourage you to read it this Christmas.
THIS CHRISTMAS, TO SEE JESUS IS TO SEE GOD!—TO BE FILLED WITH FRESH WONDER OVER:
- GOD WITH US—“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.” (1:23)
We run, God pursues. The entire narrative of scripture, from start to finish, is the story of restless rebellion & relentless love. Will we stop running this Christmas, turn around, and fall into the embrace of a loving God! He is here, closer than you could ever imagine!
- GOD LIKE US—“This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. (1:18-19)
God entered into his world exactly the same way we do, by messy process! His Dad nearly disowned him and his mom before he was even born. He would grow up and experience every ounce of our humanity; all the same trials, temptations, and heart aches, even death. No other god in any religion has ever condescended with such grace & humility. Cast your burdens on Christ this Christmas. Pour out your hearts. He is like us. He understands!
- GOD FOR US—“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (1:21)
To see Jesus with new eyes, we must also see ourselves with new eyes! We are not basically “good people” in need of small improvements. We are perfection personified ruined by sin! We are beautifully created “in the image of God” and grotesquely marred by a treacherous desire to be god. We can’t save ourselves! The name “Jesus” means, “God saves.” Jesus was born for the cross! Until we look into the mirror and see a person desperately in need of a Savior, we’ll never be able to look into the manger and truly see Jesus. Through faith in Christ, there is forgiveness of sins, eternal life! This Christmas, may our hearts initially sink with despair over our depravity, and then soar with hope as “the soul feels its worth.” God is for us!
- GOD ABOVE US—“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” (2:1-2)
These “magi” didn’t miss Jesus. They were important men, with important lives. Yet, they saw the prophetic star above them, so they traveled a great distance to a foreign land for the sake of worshiping Jesus. To truly see Jesus, we must look up from our own important lives. All around us are signs, evidences pointing to the majesty of Christ. This Christmas, the ultimate invitation is to redirect our hearts and our lives to the undivided pursuit of worshiping the unrivaled King Jesus. He is King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.
May we have “new eyes” to see Emmanuel, “God with us.”
“Oh come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.”