It is so very hard to imagine that sin and its death could be found more horrible and terrible to God than they are to us! We wrestle with all sorts of ways to find a clear conscience and run from guilt and shame. We invest all sorts of unrealistic hopes in medicine, technology, and natural cures to ward off death for as long as possible. Yet we approach the season in which we see exactly how terrible sin and its death are to God -- they moved Him to send forth His Son into our flesh and blood, into our world under the law, to be sin for us. That is what the manger witnesses -- not some fairy tale story of romance, rejection, and a happy outcome but sin, evil, wickedness, shame, guilt, fear, and death. He came for us and to come for us He came for these.
If only we see could see this, Christmas would be far more in our eyes than it too often ends up. We don't need picturesque scenes or quaint settings or magical stories or tearful sentiment. We need a God who will come down to get dirty with us and for us -- so great is His love that He would take on our worst enemies and fate in the loneliness of an obedient life a world could not understand and a sacrificial death that was even more confounding and confusing to our sensibilities.
Yes, this is the God we meet in the manger and who reveals His great love for us on the cross. We sheds the tears for sins we should shed. He cries out for the reality of death while we try to find fake comfort in the idea that death is natural and that the brief cycle of birth, life, and death should leave us somehow content enough to celebrate life and go home with our memories. But not Jesus. He refuses fake comfort or fake hope and even though it cost Him all, He willingly entered into the suffering and death of the cross for us and our salvation. This is Christmas, too!