Playing Joseph in my church's "Christmas on the Farm" this weekend surprisingly had quite an effect on me. I know the Christmas story inside and out. Since I was a little guy, I've always seen Jesus as the focal point of Christmas – as He should be. Last night was something new though. No, there was nothing different about the setting. It was rather typical – stable, donkey, sheep, shepherds, straw bedding in a wooden manger, a beautiful Mary, a borrowed baby doll, and a chilling wind that ignored my multiple layers of tunic clothing and went straight for the marrow.
There was something new though.
Although much of the ten minute presentation became repetitive, one portion did not. Just as a gentle song began in the background, Mary gently handed me the baby Jesus, wrapped in soft white cloth. For the next few moments, I was no longer acting. I looked back into those incredibly lifelike eyes and an involuntary smile spread across my face. A lump formed in my throat as I held the Child who would soon die for my sins and the sins of the world. Fully God and fully man, Immanuel, God with us. The creator of the universe nestled against my chest. My heart exploded with awe and thankfulness. As the smell of the animals' dung filled my nostrils and the frigid air attacked my body's warmth, I thanked the Father for sending His Son to such a disgusting world. Jesus emptied Himself, became of no reputation, took the form of a lowly servant, and ultimately suffered for a world that rejected Him.
My mind doesn't comprehend such love but that's alright. I'll continue to be dumbfounded day after day, Christmas after Christmas, as the Lord continues to remind me how much He loves me and how much it cost to reconcile me back to Himself. The word Gospel means "good news." It's true. It's so very true.