“Wouldn’t a Christmas baby be just sooo precious?!” Parents who are expecting a child in December grow accustomed to hearing this. Certainly a Christmas birth is meaningful to Christian parents, as it should be also for that child. It should be, but for the child growing up with a birthday on or around Christmas, it is perceived to be less desirable than it is a blessing.
For a child whose birthday is on or around Christmas, the coming of Christmas is often met with mixed feelings. On the one hand, the child is looking forward to Christmas because of the gifts he will receive. On the other hand, that child will sometimes feel “cheated” because his birthday and Christmas are so close together. Inevitably this means that he will, at least from his point of view, receive fewer presents at either celebration than he would have had he been born in one of the months before Christmas.
It’s interesting that even with the divine circumstances, as Mary and Joseph looked forward to the birth of their Christmas Baby, they displayed the traits of expectant parents everywhere. Mary, upon hearing the news of her forthcoming pregnancy from the angel, at first could not believe it. She said: “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” When the angel explained that this Child would be conceived by special operation of the Holy Spirit, she rejoiced over the announcement and, upon telling her cousin Elizabeth, burst into song (Lk. 1:46ff).
Joseph, on the other hand, like most expectant fathers, was at first apprehensive and fearful, as the angel had to calm him down, saying: “Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife” (Mt. 1:20). However, the circumstances were far different from those of any other expectant father, as the angel continues: ” . . . that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.”
In that statement “. . . He shall save His people from their sins” lay the real joy that Mary and Joseph felt as they awaited the blessed event. The LORD God had seen fit to fulfill thousands of years of prophecy through this virgin mother Mary, so that when this Child was delivered the answer to the hopes and prayers of thousands of years were also delivered in that little stable in Bethlehem.
Unlike other Christmas babies, He whose birthday IS Christmas, whose birthday/Christmas gifts were gold, frankincense, and myrrh, was not disappointed with His birthday. Far from it, for this is He who “for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). With His conception and birth God’s Son began His thirty-three year journey to the cross, where He would redeem sinful mankind. That is the Christ-child’s birthday gift to all people–the forgiveness of sins, peace with God, and life eternal.
It is in this then that, as we look forward to another Christmas, we can once again feel the expectant hope that Mary and Joseph felt, not merely as expectant parents but as expectant believers, looking and rejoicing in faith over the redemption of the world that has come through the Christ-child. As one woman put it: “I always hated having my birthday in December. It always distracted me from the real joy of Christmas.”
As we thus await Christmas, Christ’s joy is our joy as we rejoice over the birth of our Savior from sin, giving thanks to God for His Son, THE most precious birthday Gift that has ever been given.
— Pastor Joel Fleischer