The phrase “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” has been used extensively. I may border on the corny but “Jesus is the Reason for the Ministry.”
When we look at a baby in a manger we hear the Christmas Story. That story becomes the Jesus story and consequently it becomes the redemption story. That is what the Mission ministry is all about – the redemption story.
The Christmas story is a romantic one and a necessary one. Mary and Joseph were traveling with no place to stay and Mary went into labor. I wonder if the inn keeper had known the heavenly origin of the child about to appear what he would have done. I guess that begs the question, If we know His heavenly origin what have we done with Him? So, I am not sure the inn keeper would have made room for the heavenly one. To add to the romantic idea the shepherds come to see him and found Him wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger. The story can be so romantic that we lose sight of what Jesus will accomplish in a few years.
The Jesus Story is a boy going to the temple according to the Jewish traditions of his time, getting separated from His parents and teaching the Scribes and Pharisees what they should already know but somehow missed. From His circumcision to active ministry Jesus lived as would any child in Israel would. He becomes the man God wants Him to be. This time is His preparation for His heavenly purpose.
The Redemption Story requires the babe in the manger – that He would die on a cross in a shameful manner – so ultimately He could redeem all of those that would accept Him. The pain of the cross loses the romance created by His birth. But this pain imparts the hope of new life to every believer.
The Mission story is those with no place in life have a place to shelter. Those with great shame can find a place beyond shame. Those with hunger pangs can find relief and food for nourishment. Above all else they can hear about the redeemer, the babe that became a man to die for them.
The Jesus of the manger is central to the mission. It’s a combo Jesus and the Mission.
Merry Christmas from our house to yours, may the grace of God visit you every day.
George E. Batten