In less than a week, we will be celebrating Christmas once again. I don’t know what your plans are, but when you read this, I will be in Brazil with my family, getting ready to celebrate Christ’s birth with four generations of Trindades and Oliveiras. We have slightly different Christmas traditions. Our families get together for a late-night supper on the 24th , when we open the presents before sending the kids to bed. I guess since we don’t need chimneys in the heat of South American Summer, Santa comes earlier around here. One thing is common in any hemisphere, though. People always dress their best for Christmas celebrations.
Clothing the Guilty
As I reflected on the work of Christ this year, I was reminded of three moments in the history of Salvation when clothing is mentioned. The first time is right after the fall. Disobedience opens the eyes of our first parents, and they realize they are naked. God’s response is immediate.
“The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21
Those animals (probably two) had nothing to do with Adam and Eve’s sin, but they paid the price for someone else’s disobedience. As darkness enters the human race, the innocent die for the guilty for the first of many times.
Clothing a Baby
Fast-forward several thousand years and humble shepherds have a terrifying vision of Angels, and light, and heavenly choirs in the middle of the night. The angel tells them what to expect:
“This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12
The incarnated Son of God is born naked, like every human being. His parents wrap him in cloths to protect his newborn from the cold. He is not dressed in the finest linen of noble children, but simply wrapped in a cloth, as a pauper.
Shiny Eternal Clothes for You and Me
Now let’s travel the future yet not here but foretold by one who was given a glimpse of the end of all things old and the beginning of all things new, in the day when Christ shall return, now dressed as the King of Kings, in all His majesty and with the glory that has been His since before the foundation of the world. When that day comes, you and I will be given new clothes too - pure linen, incorruptible, beautiful beyond description.
Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Revelation 7:13-14
You and I, once naked and ashamed because of our sin, have been clothed with mercy and will one day receive eternal garments of holiness because a baby was once born into this world. He came wrapped in a simple cloth in a humble stable, but grew to be a man who died, and rose again for our salvation. He will return one day to usher a new era for all of us. That is the message of Advent and Christmas. That is the Gospel that you and I as passionate leaders are responsible for making known to any and every person on this planet.
A very merry Christmas to you and your dear ones.