A few minutes ago, as I was reading a note from my mom about the “joy unspeakable and full of glory” that is the heart of Christmas, I was struck by an image of the excitement in heaven over the birth of Jesus some 2000 years ago. God himself, I suddenly realized, had looked forward to that day. Set before the creation of the universe, he planned to come down and walk among humans again — this time in a form even more intimate than he had with Adam in the Garden.
Several years ago, in a moment of quiet gratitude to God for sacrificing his Son for our benefit, I was given a quick glimpse of insight into God’s perspective. I thanked him not just for his suffering and death, but knowing that he’d wear a body (even if glorified) for eternity because once he took on humanity, he was stuck with it forever. And as I expressed my gratitude for him taking such great measures to bring us back, he answered very simply, “It was my pleasure.”
With those four short words, I understood in a flash that it was his great joy to walk with us again. It was so much his desire to be with us and for us to be with him that it was a sheer joy for him to come down and be with us in the flesh.
But I didn’t realize until just now, that God had eagerly looked forward to that day from the dawn of eternity. Like the expression Jesus used speaking to his disciples about how he had looked forward to that last Passover with them, “with desire, I have desired to eat this with you,” it was with that same great intensity of desire and anticipation that God himself waited for the day when he could take on humanity himself, and walk with us — just to BE with us, and for us to experience him in a tangible way. He felt such great joy at the prospect of the manger, of that great cataclysmic eruption of the divine personhood into this mundane reality. It was his great pleasure, and all heaven exploded in celebration at that moment. “EMMANUEL ! — With us, God!” So powerful was the explosion that angelic hosts appeared visibly in the night sky. The fabric of space and time was torn, the dimensions collided. It was like a star exploding, a super nova. The only precedent to the immensity of this event was the very first moment of Creation when God spoke the Word and an explosion of light filled the universe, and the very substance of everything that is in our world, our reality, came into existence. This time, God himself, piercing through the barrier separating heaven from earth, took on flesh, to walk, talk, and touch his beloved — us. He’d been waiting eons for that moment, and savored it with such pleasure.
The Cross, as essential as it is for our redemption and restoration, was a small price to pay in his eyes for the sheer joy of reuniting with us, and having us be able to spend eternity with him — as he’d originally intended. Like birth pains in reverse. Those hours of pain and agony at the Crucifixion he would gladly suffer for the joy set before him. And that joy was US.
That was my brief Christmas revelation, and I wanted to share it with you all. As we celebrate the birth of Christ, the redeemer of mankind, let’s also remember the heart of Our Father that motivated this occasion. He did it for us — for the joy of YOUR company. The message of Christmas he earnestly wants you to hear: You are greatly loved.
Merry Christmas, indeed!