A Christmas carol, written in the 1800’s, isn’t sung often enough when we celebrate Jesus’ birth. We should learn it! The title is “See Amid the Winter’s Snow.” The first stanza and refrain are…
See amid the winter’s snow,
Born for us on earth below,
See, the gentle Lamb appears,
Promised from eternal years.
Hail that ever blessed morn,
Hail redemption’s happy dawn,
Sing through all Jerusalem:
Christ is born in Bethlehem.
The name of the tune to which this carol is sung is “Humility,” and I find this very appropriate for the celebration of Jesus’ birth.
In scripture, the image of the Lamb is applied to Jesus many times. John the Baptist called him, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” In the Book of Revelation, Jesus is called “the Lamb that was slain,” a reference of his sacrifice on the cross for our sins. In popular understanding, a lamb is considered a mild, meek creature. This accords well with humility.
As we think about Jesus, God’s Son, who surrendered his heavenly glory and power to take on himself our human nature, we’re impressed with his humility. His surrender for our salvation began long before his death on the cross. It took its first earthly form when he was born of Mary and placed in Bethlehem’s manger. Humility is the essence of Jesus’ personality.
In part, I think, the intended message of Christmas is the need for humanity to become humble. Why did Jesus come anyway? Because you and I and every human being sins! Our root sin is pride, arrogance. We considered the things of God to be within our reach. Adam and Eve grabbed for the “apple” because it was good to the eye and would make them strong in the ways of God. Pride about themselves!
Human beings always chafe under the delusion that humility is beneath them, when humility is the very essence of a creature before his or her Creator. In part, this is what Jesus came into our world to teach us. Are we learning?