We’re less than 17 days till Christmas. We’re neck deep in the elements of the holiday that seem to set our minds on the sounds, smells, songs, and stuff of the season. The radio stations have long since switched over to all Christmas music all the time. No doubt about it: Its Christmas!
I’ve been preoccupied however. Truth be told, my mind hasn’t been as much on the manger, or the star, or the wise men, or the shepherds, or the angels. For some reason I can’t quite explain fully, my heart has been focused on the spikes. The ones found nowhere in the Christmas story.
I remember so well the soft, almost breakable feel of my own four children’s skin when they were babies. I can remember just holding their arm or fingers as they lay in that crib or car seat. I can still feel that tender skin on my finger tips. And I’ve got to believe that Mary felt the same kind of skin as Jesus lay there in that manger. I’ve got to believe that Mary would shutter at the very thought of that skin taking on the sin of humanity some 33 years later. I’ve got to believe that Mary would–at all costs–protect that skin from bruises, from scrapes, and from pain.
But Jesus put on that skin knowing fully that those spikes would one day tear through it. If you could know that during your next car ride you were going to be in a collision with another car, would you get in? If you could somehow know that the next time you tripped and fell you’d certainly break your arm, would you even dare to walk? If you could know that a gunman was outside your home, would you even go outside? Jesus, in the definitive act of divinity, grace, justice, and mercy knew beyond any doubt that those spikes awaited him and yet he willingly put on that skin and came to us for that very purpose….for those very spikes.
But I suppose those spikes are part of the Christmas story after all, aren’t they? We may not sing merrily this month about them, but if the purpose of the incarnation of God in flesh was ultimately to offer that flesh on a cross for all people everywhere, doesn’t it make sense to include them in the Christmas story our hearts retell?
I certainly don’t mean to skip over Christmas to get to the cross. And believe me, I’m soaking in every bit of this season as I possibly can; the tree, the lights, the songs, the food, the family, the joy, the celebration, and the manger. But deep in my heart I’m captivated by the spikes and the fact that those spikes, that cross, and my death were why the baby came at all.