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A young woman lowered herself down onto the dirt floor. On any normal day, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but on this night, the night she went into labor, she must have been shocked to find herself in such a place. It makes sense that she would go into labor. She had journeyed by donkey in a stressful situation to a place, most likely, unfamiliar to her. Laboring in filthy conditions and with a new husband, Mary had no choice but to give birth to this baby. This baby would manifest the most magnificent glory and tragic suffering the world would ever see.

Mary had no circumstantial reason to feel safe, but she did have a promise from God Himself. A promise that her son, Jesus, would be the Savior of the world. Mary, suffering through labor, had a heart rejoicing on solid ground, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. . .for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name” (Luke 1:46-47, 49).

This, this is the Christmas labor we celebrate each year. We bring gifts, we sing songs, we bake bread, and we do it all to celebrate the baby delivered in that dirty animal stall. Jesus, the Son of God, chose to humiliate Himself. He made Himself a helpless babe, vulnerable to the effects of the Fall and placed Himself at the mercy of sinful man. And for what? For joy.

Joy to the World!

The Lord has come,

Let earth receive her King!

Let every heart prepare Him room

And heaven and nature sing,

Joy to the World!

There was literally no room for Jesus to be born, so He chose the meekest of all places so the lowliest of all hearts might know and find joy in Him. This wasn’t because He had no power. Make no mistake, He could have chosen a golden crib. Instead, King Jesus gave up earthly power for the sake of all-consuming love. A love that makes no sense to my human flesh but contains everything I need to know true joy.

Like Mary, we have nothing apart from the promises of God. Christmas celebrated without trusting in our heavenly Father is crude consumerism. Christmas celebrating the Savior born into suffering for His children is true worship. This is Jesus, the fulfillment of God’s promise to Mary. His birth, His humiliation, His love, these are the right reasons we come bearing gifts.

While the world celebrates Christmas by giving gifts, we have a Savior who gave us the greatest gift of all. A love so wide and so deep that we cannot be separated from it (Rom 8:35). Christmas is about a man willing to give Himself for the sake of love. Our Christmas joy, then, must not be rooted in our earthly traditions. It must be firmly planted in a love of a perfect Person who sits at the right hand of a God who fulfills His promises (Eph 1:20-23). This is the Jesus of Christmas.

This article was originally posted at Gospel Taboo.

Rebekah Hannah

Rebekah Hannah is a biblical counselor with Anchored Hope. She has a passion for teaching the sufficiency of Scripture for everyday life. Having a Masters of Divinity in Theology & Biblical Counseling, she enjoys writing, teaching, equipping, and counseling. Rebekah is married to Andrew and has three daughters, Maggie, Charley, and Ellis.