Christmas is anything but restful. In fact, Christmas is the busiest time of year for many of us. There is shopping to do, family to visit, cookies to bake, turkeys to roast, gifts to wrap, church services to attend, trees to put up, lights to hang, carols to sing, and the list just goes on. Our lives are so busy even without the holidays that we are tempted to panic when the Christmas season arrives!
There is a bit of irony in this because at the heart of the Christmas message is a message of rest. The Christmas story inspires us to be still and know that God is in control (see Ps. 46:10). Christmas is a time to remember that He is the one that holds it all together, not us.
Where do we see this in the Christmas story? We see it in the reality of the incarnation (i.e., God becoming fully human). This means that the Creator of the universe, in his infinite power and wisdom, came in the form of a helpless baby. Babies are the symbol of innocence and weakness. The message of Jesus coming as a baby (in contrast to what it would have meant if he started his life on earth as a man) is that even through the weakest of all he can bring redemption to the world. Through this little baby, he can put an end to the suffering and woes of the human existence and usher the creation into a new age marked by righteousness, faith, and love. Yes, He is that powerful.
Human power and might, by way of contrast, requires money, coercion, manipulation, force, and often times violence. Having to force people to conform to your will isn’t true power. True power is never forced. In the Kingdom of God, people don’t do what God wills because they are afraid of him, rather, they are faithful to him because they love him. God is so powerful that he’s able to accomplish his plan and overcome obstacles through the weakness and innocence of a newborn baby.
Making a similar point, Napoleon once said, “Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for him.”
This means that God has unmatched power. God is so powerful that (1) he is capable of wrapping the fullness of God in the form of a newborn baby, and (2) he can redeem the world through the most innocent and the weakest of all. That’s true power. We are able to stop striving, stop the business, lay aside our worries and anxieties when we’re mindful of God’s unmatched power. This is the rest-giving, liberating truth of the story of Christmas.
Focusing on God’s unmatched ability to bring healing to the world reminds us that we can rest, be still, and remember that He alone is God. No human might, power, coercion, or wisdom can redeem the world of its woes. God alone is capable. He’s so capable that he can do it through a baby.