Alright, I’ll shoot straight with you. You are probably not going to read anything in this post that you didn’t know before you began (hence the title). I’m not going to pull up some obscure fact about Christmas or provide some incredible detail that you’ve never heard before. In fact, what I will be sharing are actually just the basic facts of the holiday. But before you complain that this is clickbait, I hope by the end of this article that you see how the truths I’m about to cover are shocking, whether you currently view them that way or not. You see, what we celebrate every Christmas should shock every one of us; yet, far too often we get so used to hearing it over and over that we find dull what we should find riveting, we gloss over that which should amaze us and ignore that which should captivate us. So here are three shocking Christmas truths (that you probably already know):
Shocking Truth 1: God Became a Person.
Theology calls this the incarnation. Scripture calls it Immanuel (a Hebrew phrase which means “God with us”). A popular show when I was growing up was a modern day retelling of Joan of Arc and had a theme song entitled, “What if God was one of us?” Well, that already happened. God became a person, and He went by the name Jesus. Now the hands that formed the world worked for a living. The eyes that had seen everything chose to only see what was in front of them. And the Creator of all chose to take part in creation. Perhaps Hebrews 2:14 says it best when it states “Since therefore the children [that’s us] share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things.”
Most Christians know this, and unfortunately, most have forgotten what this really means. We’ve forgotten that for the infinite to forever limit Himself to a finite body was a great humiliation. We don’t stop to think about what God gave up when He joined the human race. And so, we hear that Jesus was born as a baby and we think “How cute! I love babies!” instead of thinking, “Wow, God would do that for me?”
Shocking Truth 2: When God Came, Nobody Cared.
The second thing we tend to forget is that when God did something as shocking as come to earth, He intentionally came to a very humble reception. No palace received the woman who carried the God-Man in her womb. No kings put up Joseph and Mary in the finest of accommodations. They couldn’t even find an empty hotel room so they had to spend the night in a barn. They didn’t have an actual bed for the greatest ruler to ever be born, so they put Him in an animal’s food box.
True, heaven and the angels rejoiced, but for most of mankind it was a night just like any other night. The shepherds showed up! But as one commentary points out, “One should not romanticize the occupation of shepherds. In general shepherds were dishonest . . . and unclean according to the standards of the law.” Other than that, men went home from a long day of work, kissed their wives, played with their kids, and went to bed. And that was it. That the God of creation would stoop to become a man is so grand that people should have thronged to His birth. He should have received the wildest of accolades and throngs of dedicated worshippers should have come in droves to get just a glimpse of the King of Israel, King of the Nations, and King of the Universe. Instead, He was born in a barn and some local shepherds came. When God showed up on this planet as a man, He was all but ignored. That should shock us.
Shocking Truth 3: When God Came, He Came To Die.
Often, when we think of Christmas, we think of a cute baby being born, angels singing, and a happy new mother. We forget the words of Simeon when he told Mary, “a sword shall pierce through your own soul also” (Luke 2:35). We forget that the reason God came to earth was not so that He could receive our worship, not at first anyway. The immediate reason God chose to humble himself was so that He could die in our place. Christ’s first arrival was so that God Himself could endure the greatest act of injustice ever committed, die the most painful death imaginable, and all for a human race that had already rejected Him. Yes, the angels came singing peace, but that peace came at a price. God’s olive branch to man came at the price of the brutal murder of His own Son.
Philippians 2 is probably one of my favorite Christmas passages. There we read that Christ, “in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
So putting it all together, the shocking truth to remember this Christmas is that the Almighty God, the One by whom and for whom all things were created, the Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End, the Eternal Sovereign gave up the power and wealth and majesty of heaven to limit himself to the weaknesses of humanity, subjecting himself to hunger, cold, the flu, exhaustion, excruciating pain, and loneliness. When He did come, His birth was ignored by almost everyone, except for the lowest blue collar workers of the day, and he was born in a barn and instead of a bed he was put in an animal’s food dish. Why would He go through all of this? So that one day He could endure the most brutal form of murder that man’s wicked mind has come up with, allowing Him to take the punishment for sin that you and I deserve.
If that doesn’t shock you, I don’t know what will.
 Robert H. Stein, Luke, vol. 24, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 108.
Ben Hicks went to Bob Jones University for college and stayed on for grad work, recently graduating with his Master of Divinity. Ben is the Young Adults Pastor and oversees the Single Focus ministry at Colonial Hills Baptist Church. Follow him on Twitter @HicksBen
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