What? Christmas season again? Already? We just did that! We haven’t even recovered from last year’s go-round, and here we go again!
Not that I’m a grinch. Honest. I actually like most of it: the worship, the time with family and friends, the extra ministry opportunities. It’s just that, well, Christmas season is so BUSY!
Maybe that’s not all so bad. Maybe our busyness allows us in some minor way to identify with the One whose birth we celebrate. Christmas made Jesus busy too, really busy.
The Son of God, from an eternity with nothing but time on his hands, plunged into a world ruled by the clock. It’s humiliating enough to be tossed into the rotting mess of sinful humanity. But now the God of time and Lord of the Sabbath is presented with the indignity of being subject to time—just another way in which, as the Heidelberg Catechism so perceptively observes, Jesus suffered “during his whole life on earth” (Q&A 37) and not just at its end.
A brief sweep through the gospels:
The boy Jesus in the temple gets a tongue-lashing from his earthly parents because he can’t stick to their schedule and his heavenly Father’s schedule at the same time (Luke 2:48).
The same passage informs us that Jesus “increased in wisdom”—in other words, the fount of all wisdom had to gain it piecemeal, a bit at a time (Luke 2:52).
Jesus had to endure great temptation when his stomach told him it was time to eat. Matthew tells us that after 40 days of fasting, Jesus was “famished” (Matt. 4:2).
The One for whom 1,000 years is like a day must tell his mom that he cannot yet bring the full Messianic joy of God’s kingdom because his “hour has not yet come” (John 2:4). All he may accomplish at that moment is a “sign.” The reality must wait.
In Mark’s and Luke’s accounts, Jesus runs late on a pastoral call to Jairus’s daughter. All for good reason—to effect another healing. But the delay increases the pain of the frantic parents and tests their faith even further (Mark 5:35).
Jesus invites his disciples on a retreat, “for many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat” (Mark 6:31).
Jesus gets outfoxed by a “Canaanite” woman over a timing issue, heals her daughter, and now needs to insert another tour of duty through Gentile territory into his already overloaded agenda (Mark 7:31ff.).
Even after his crucifixion Jesus must spend three days (by Jewish reckoning) in the grave—to atone for our crime, he must do the time.
If the Holy Spirit empowered the human Jesus to survive and fulfill his ministry despite the humiliations, temptations, and restrictions of the cruel clock, then we can survive it too, because in due time he has given us that same Spirit.
So what if we get a bit too much busyness this Christmas season? Or too little? The risen Lord of the Sabbath empowers and invigorates us even when time begins to hurt. Let’s go for it!