On Monday of this past week, my wife and I farewelled our son and daughter-in-law and their two small children as they flew to America for twelve months. Needless to say, it was a very sad and teary occasion. Saying goodbye is never easy, especially when it is for a long time. In our case, we are planning to visit them in April next year, and again in September, so the time apart is not long. This week reminded me of how the disciples must have felt when Jesus was buried in the tomb and the stone rolled across the entrance. They would have assumed that they were not going to see Jesus again until the resurrection of all the dead as their theology would have promised them. Imagine their joy and amazement when Jesus presented himself to them just three days later. Their sadness was instantly replaced by tremendous joy. This is like the Departure Hall at an airport compared to the Arrivals Hall. However, the joyous reunions at the Arrivals Hall at an airport are nothing compared to the reunion of Jesus and his disciples!
We are approaching the season of the year when Christmas carols such as “Joy to the World” are sung, and the word “joy” is seen in department stores and on Christmas trees. The angel who appeared to the shepherds in Luke 2:10 said “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” The “good news” was met with amazement by many, but I wonder how many saw the news as “joyous”. Certainly, Simeon and Anna in Jerusalem and Joseph, Mary, and Elizabeth were among those who were rejoicing at the news. But for most in Israel at the time, the birth of a baby to an insignificant poor carpenter and his wife was not something to rejoice about.
At this time of year, we marvel that God would send his son into this world and do so as a baby, not as a conquering hero. This is unfortunately how the majority of people in the world today continue to think of Jesus. They are comfortable thinking of Jesus as a baby in a manger, but they ignore or forget that he grew up and was the “sacrificial lamb” for our sins. Thinking of his life and sacrificial death makes them uncomfortable, and so they celebrate Christmas but ignore Easter. This year, may we rejoice that God sent his son to earth as a baby, but remember that it is his life and death that secures our salvation.