He was laid inside a womb by an Angel of God. Then into a Momma’s arms in a Bethlehem barn. He was laid upon an animal’s feeding trough to sleep. Then inside a simple carpenter’s home to be raised up in the no good town of Nazareth.
He was laid under a watery baptism in the Jordan River. And was led to lay for forty nights, starving and alone, on a dry desert floor. He laid on the back of the boat asleep in a storm. And He laid low while on the run from those who would eventually kill Him. He laid down His Lordship to humbly serve all those around Him. Yet, most of the time had no place at all to even lay His head to rest… until He eventually laid down in chains for a flogging. Then, atop a cross for hanging. And, finally inside a borrowed tomb for burying.
And He willingly laid down His Will over and over and went where He was led for the sake of another. And in that garden of Gethsemane, just a day before his death, with His whole purpose for coming nearly upon Him, He laid for the last time upon the ground to pray. And in great agony over what was to come, while sweating drops of His own blood, He cried to God, “…not my will, but Yours, be done.”
And in these same last moments on earth, laid down low and heavily burdened, He also prayed what is likely the best prayer ever recorded. Not for Himself, as we might have done, but for all who would ever hear His name. Praying to His Father in Heaven, He asked for those He’d been given and all who heard after, to believe He was Who He told them He was. He laid there and prayed for them to be ONE with Him and His Father in Heaven. He laid and prayed and with some of His last words spoken, He petitioned to God for US… for our protection… for our joy… for our holiness. For us to be with Him for eternity and for us to know Him and His Father and see His Glory … His True Character.
And so this Christmas, as you prepare to celebrate the most glorious day of this whole holiday season… as you lay out the gifts and goodies… lay out the frills for all your festivities… lay in front of warm flames wrapped up in your softest flannels… and lay down to rest your weary eyes and minds, may you see that it was thoughts of you that consumed Him as He laid down His head all alone in those last hours as a man on earth. And may you lay quieter still and remember that this season is – only and all – about the birth of this child.
A child Who always was and Who Is and Who Is to come.
A child born to save us from ourselves.
A child who is called Immanuel, God with us.
A child named, Jesus… who is both the Son of God and son of man.
And now… I wonder if I could lay down something for you this season? A challenge, of sorts. (Not that you need more things on your to-do list… it’s just I’m positive it will be worth your while.) So, I would like to challenge you to see this child and son, Jesus, as He truly is. Not simply as a babe in a manger. Nor a sweet, miraculous story. Nor a man. Nor even a good and righteous man. Nor a prophet. Nor a King. Nor a beautiful moment in history about which to celebrate and sing. And, not even as the Savior of the world, or your soul, and the way we can get to Heaven (though He is that, to be sure!)
My challenge is simply for you to lay down – even if it’s for the briefest moment – any doubts or bluster or busyness and ask Jesus to show you His Great Love for you. Lay down all preconceived thoughts or impressions you may have of Jesus and take some time to see Him as The One Who graciously ended His life on earth the way He began it… by being laid down. The One who willingly laid down into the depths of Hell, so that we could be raised up to a new, eternal life. And, yet, also The One who has always existed, will always exist, and created you to exist in this exact time and place for His good purpose and who desires you to know this more than you can imagine.
Remember it was His dying prayer as He lay in that garden, that you be filled with His Joy, protected from evil, and united with Him and God for all eternity. So read that prayer again (and again) and see His Glorious Character. Read it and see The One that gives it all in order for you to get ALL of Who He is and who He’s created you to be. Read and see – for yourself – the Jesus that He prays for you to see… not the one the world seeks to show you.
And then, just maybe, you would want to read some more… truly gaze deep into His words and His life, as expressed in The Gospels and as prophesied in the Old Testament and revealed in the New? Read and try to feel His presence, as He meets you there. Listen… Jesus longs for you to seek and see Him and His Heart could not be any more for you. Read and see and believe that! And, as you see Him better and better, I pray you’d receive His true heart for you and that you’d begin to love Him for who He is, just as He loves you simply for who you are.
Because this True Jesus, The One who’s birth we’re about to celebrate with gifts and family and gatherings, certainly knows you, rejoices over you, and celebrates with His Father and all the angelic hosts every time any one of you receives His free gift of salvation and comes into His Family.
So, I also challenge you not to wait. Don’t put it off. Don’t think you have to fix yourself up before you fix your eyes upon Him. Don’t push Him into the background while you attempt to celebrate everything else all around. Don’t deny what you know deep in your heart to be true, because of this world, or those opinions, or that distraction, or their belief. Make this the season you finally lay down those doubts… those fears… the hope in things that will never satisfy you long term… and simply prepare your heart to pick up God’s Greatest Gift on December 25th… Jesus.
For now and for forever.
P.S. The thoughts expressed in this post are my greatest hope because there is nothing I want more than to see every single soul know the Jesus I know. I promise, you will never be the same once you meet Him. And, if you find yourself curious and want to know this Jesus, but have never known you can or that you even should before now, just say these words: “Jesus, I don’t know you. (Yet.) But, I think I may want to. I want to know if you’re real. Would you show me? The Bible says all who seek you will find you. It says you lived the perfect life and died to save mine. It says you are the Son of God and of man, yet was at the time of Creation and will reign for all eternity. The Bible says you are the only way to God and that you even say you are God. It says that God loved this world and gave you to die for this world and that if we believe that, then we will have everlasting life. All of it seems so weird and confusing and well, unreal, honestly, so will you answer my doubts and help me to see the truth? Help me see you? To Believe you? And, if all this is true, will you show me that you are Truth and Love and the only way to God? Will you show me I can believe in you and have a new beginning and a whole new life?”