One popular Christmas song has a line that is not true, for many of us:
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…It’s the hap-happiest season of all!”
It is because we have shared many wonderful memories with loved ones at Christmas time that the loss or absence of those loved ones is especially felt in this season. Contrary to Andy Williams’ lyrics above, for those of us who have have lost mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, spouses, or friends, this is actually the darkest and saddest time of the year.
If this is you, please take heart that the Lord Jesus Himself mourns with you this holiday season. In fact, one of the reasons our God came into this world and took upon flesh was to enter into our pain. Christmas is actually the reality that the Living God became “a Man of Sorrows,” which can be translated, “Man of Pains” (Isa. 53:3).
His sufferings began at birth: He was rejected at His birth by Joseph’s family. It is not that there was NO VACANCY at the local Motel 6 in Bethlehem. That is not the reason why our Creator had to be born in a feeding trough. Rather, the Greek says “there was no place for them in the guest room” (Luke 2:7; that word for guest room is used later in Luke 22:11 for the guest room where Jesus would eat the Passover Meal). It is likely that Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, was refused a place in his family’s home, even though he and Mary had traveled all the way to the City of David while she was full-term.
This was a preview of the rejection and sorrow He would undergo at the Cross on our behalf. The Man of Pains “carried our pains” to the Cross (Isa. 53:4). The deep sadness, pain, and sorrow that He bore, was our sin – along with all the sufferings related to the fall: emotional anguish, misery, despair. Jesus bore it all upon Himself. In His infinite compassion for sinful-sufferers, Christ desired to undergo a deep darkness that none of us have ever experienced. As God the Son, He endured the equivalence of an eternity of wrath which we deserved, poured out upon Him by God the Father, in His three hours of darkness on the Cross. Thus His death was a propitiation – a wrath satisfying sacrifice (Heb. 2:17).
In short, Jesus came to enter into our death! Why? So that He could remove it through His shed blood which alone can atone for sin, and by His resurrection from death. His first coming guarantees He will come again to wipe away every tear from our eyes, and to fully remove all pain and sorrow once for all (Rev. 21:4).
Until then, please know that the Resurrected Son of God is with you by means of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, in the valley of the shadow of death. He already has walked through your darkness, and has overcome it, victoriously. He who is Sovereign over death, wept at the death of His friend, then raised Lazarus up from it! (John 11:35, 43).
Perhaps a more appropriate Christmas song is,
Come to Earth to Taste our Sadness,
he whose glories knew no end;
by his life he brings us gladness,
our Redeemer, Shepherd, Fried.
Leaving riches without number,
born within a cattle stall;
this the everlasting wonder,
Christ was born the Lord of all.
(From “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus”, written by Charles Wesley and Mark E. Hunt)
To hear a song on the sufferings of Christ at His birth, listen to “The Humility of Christ” (by Timothy Brindle). To hear a sermon on Jesus’ parents being refused a place in Joseph’s family’s guest room, listen to “The Foolishness of the Manger,” by Jonathan Brack.