I love Christmas music and I am unashamed about it. When it comes to the argument of “how soon is too soon”, I’m the kind of guy that is perfectly content to listen to Christmas music well before Thanksgiving, as soon as there’s the slightest chill in the air (judge if you must!). I think that I love Christmas music so much because, in the midst of all the busyness of gift buying and house decorating, the best Christmas songs remind us of the “reason for the season”. It reminds us that the beauty of the Christmas season is all about Jesus.
My favorite Christmas song is actually a song of Advent. It goes like this:
“O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel”
I’ve always loved “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”, because we know how the story ends. Emmanuel (Jesus) did come! And this year, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about why Jesus came. When we’re teaching students how to live the kind of life that Jesus lived, it’s important to understand why Jesus did what He did. Jesus had goals that he most certainly met! But what were they? Why did Jesus come?
I think there are lots of reasons that Jesus came. But you don’t need to take my word for it. Over the next few weeks during this Advent season as we await Christmas, we’ll take a look at a few different reasons that Jesus himself gave.
The first comes from Mark 10:45, and it’s one of my favorites. It’s the verse that we use as the heart of our servant leadership curriculum here at Impact 360 Institute: “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
It seems pretty straightforward, right? Jesus came to serve! And he most certainly did. Right in the same verse, Jesus references his ultimate act of service: “to give his life as a ransom for many”. Jesus came to reconcile us to God, and to ransom us by giving His life.
But when we dig deeper and look at the context of the verse, we also find a radical call to discipleship there. Earlier James and John, nicknamed the “Sons of Thunder” (probably the coolest nickname in the Bible), come to Jesus ultimately asking about how to achieve greatness. When the other disciples get frustrated with them, Jesus addresses all of them. But instead of saying you should become the best at what you do, or lead a giant movement, or have the most followers, Jesus tells them that they should serve (10:43-44). Just like Him.
But here’s the radical part. Remember that Jesus has said he has not come to be served, but to serve. To my knowledge, no other religious leader in history has ever made a claim like this.
Jesus could have said, “If you want to be great, you better make sure I’m pleased.” But instead, he says “I’m here to serve you. Not the other way around.”
That’s the good news of Christmas! Jesus didn’t come so that people could wait on him hand and foot. He didn’t come as just another philosopher or teacher with a bunch of new rules about how to live. If that were the case, it wouldn’t be good news. Instead, He comes to serve us and to save us.
This year at Christmas, let’s remember that Jesus actually came to serve. He came to be with us. And as Christians, we are called to serve others, not in our strength, but in His. Who needs to be served by you this Christmas? And who needs to experience freedom through Jesus’ act of service for the first time?
We are no longer in exile. Emmanuel has come. God is with us! And that’s the good news of Christmas.