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A babe was born… then what?
‘I was born on November 30, 1874’. That is all Winston Churchill’s autobiography, ‘My Early Life’, says about the birth of the man who was to save this nation from tyranny, the man who is widely regarded as the most important leader in this country’s history. He doesn’t even say where he was born, and reading on you could get the impression he was actually born in Ireland rather than in the family home in Woodstock, Oxfordshire.
‘I was born on November 30, 1874: The End’ would be a most unsatisfactory life story for this great man who went on to achieve momentous things. Yet at this time of the year, you could be forgiven for thinking that a similar life story applied to a yet greater man, whose even greater achievement still saves mankind from tyranny 2,000 years after his death.
This time of the year we celebrate the birth of the saviour of the world, the greatest man who ever lived: the Lord Jesus. For many, actually, this period of the year is not even dominated by the birth of that baby, but by a fat, bewhiskered old man in a red suit and by a sky filled, not by angels singing ‘Glory to God’, but by reindeer pulling a sleigh which would almost certainly fail its certificate of airworthiness.
If we do remember the birth of Jesus at this time of the year, it tends to be in a romanticised way; we all love a story of a baby being born and Christmas cards show a sweet little stable with glowing lanterns, with a baby reclining in luxuriant, nice clean straw: poetic licence indeed! But all too often, that’s it. ‘A babe was born… The End.’
It would be heretical of me to underestimate the miracle of that birth. God coming to earth in human form, conceived by a virgin: that in itself would be the greatest story ever told. But if Jesus had just come to earth as a baby and that’s the end of the story, what would it all have been about? What happens next really does make his birth the greatest story ever told. A life that reveals God’s wisdom, that turns conventional wisdom on its head. A life of love for the unlovable and a contempt for those who get above themselves. A life of miracles and remarkable power, yet a life of humility and submission leading to that ultimate act of selflessness, a painful and horrible, public death to give that sacrifice of blood to bring back mankind to God. And the glorious resurrection to achieve eternal victory over sin and death.
If for you the story of Jesus is just about a rather romanticised birth of a baby 2,000 years ago, your challenge for 2015 is to find out what happened next. And be prepared for it to change your life: for ever.