Happy Birthday, Jesus?

December 18, 2014 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement | Tags: birthday, Jesus

Many Christians, especially with children, like to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus on Christmas. This practice helps teach our young ones (and even us older ones) that Christmas is about Jesus. I like to ask my kids, then, why do we get gifts on Jesus' birthday. This gives us the opportunity to talk about the "immeasurable riches of God's grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:7). We give and receive gifts as a reflection (imitation) of our abundantly kind Heavenly Father.

Now, did you know there is a risk in singing Happy Birthday to Jesus on Christmas? Think about it. When do you normally sing Happy Birthday? On people's birthdays, of course! For humans, our birthday marks the day we came into the world. Even though we believe life begins at conception, birthdays mark the beginning of our existence. Herein lies the risk: by singing Happy Birthday to Jesus, we can, perhaps subconsciously, begin to think of Jesus as having a beginning.

Christmas is the celebration of God coming down in human flesh and dwelling among mankind. There is a beginning at Christmas: The birth of baby Jesus in that stable marks the beginning of the mysterious union of two natures in one person. Jesus was born fully God and fully man. His humanity begins at conception. His divinity has no beginning.

Am I getting theologically nit-picky over a well-meaning practice that aims to keep Christmas focused on Jesus? There's a lot at stake if we are not mindful of the true nature of Christ. Certainly we can continue to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus on Christmas, but let us not forget the rich and glorious and mysterious truth that Jesus has always existed for these reasons:

1. Christ's glory is at stake. Since Jesus is fully God and fully man, "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord" (Phil. 2:10).

2. Our salvation is at stake. No mere human sacrifice could save us. Our guilt before a holy God is infinite. The sacrifice to appease the wrath of God must be infinite. "It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins... By a single offering Christ has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified" (Heb. 10:4, 14).

3. Creation is at stake. Paul says "all things were created through Christ and for Christ" (Col. 1:16) and the writer of Hebrews says, "Christ upholds the universe by the word of his power" (Heb. 1:3). Ponder this: all that creative power wrapped up in swaddling cloths lying in a manger. It is beyond our comprehension!

Happy Birthday, Jesus! This is good news of great joy! God has chosen to dwell in human flesh. That baby is the eternal, almighty God, creator of heaven and earth, redeemer of his people.


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