“What was Christmas like for you, Papa?”
I was sitting in front of the Christmas tree, watching the lights and having one of those conversations with God that’s mostly silence – and then this question broke the quiet.
What did it feel like in heaven, the day Jesus left for earth?
For all eternity, Jesus and Father had been moving in perfect relationship. Perfect closeness. Understanding. Love. Enjoyment. Laughter. Conversation. Peace.
I thought of my closest relationships. How easy they are, how much our thoughts intermingle, how hard it is to say goodbye. How fiercely I love them and how deeply I want to protect all that they are. And how much that deep relationship of mine would pale in comparison to what Father, Son, and Holy Spirit share.
And then this moment comes. I could almost see it.
Father standing on the edge of heaven with Jesus, looking, ready to begin the greatest thing that had ever happened on earth, a thing that most of the world wouldn’t even notice.
Complete understanding. Full knowing, with the fullness of him who was coming to fill everything in every way.
Father watched the one he loved most become small. The one he placed his fiercest pride in, he watched lay down his glory. Jesus took off the radiance of his face, the reflection of his heart on the outside – what Father had always looked at and known with the familiarity of eternity, Jesus left with him so as not to blind us who had never seen a love so bright.
Jesus had always been spirit. And now he took on a form so inconsequential, so unassuming, the world wouldn’t recognize the one who had formed it, dreamed of it, breathed it alive.
Papa, what could it have felt like to watch the Jesus you loved lay down his glory?
What you and Jesus had long talked of and known… The birth and death that he had helped plan, to bring back the beloveds. Did you shed tears for the blood of Jesus, your Jesus, that would be shed for us, even though you had known from the start? Did it hurt even then, knowing that we would do this, and yet… we wouldn’t know what we were doing?
I can’t imagine. I have only just begun to learn how a perfect, whole God can feel grief… but for you to stand there at the beginning, knowing it all, both the great glory and the great pain of this rescue – my rescue…
You loved me enough for that? To let the one you loved most become something you had never known – God as man, living among us – so that you could say, “I’m with you.”
God with us, and us, fully understood. That I can sit here and think of it… that I know an all-knowing God who understands me. The all-encompassing God who did not despise to put on flesh, who humbled himself to come here, in such a small form, and with the same breath that created the universe speak to me in the street.
I feel small.
You together keep your promise – to yourself, to us, to redeem, to finish what you had started.
And I wonder Father, as you let him go, did you think of Abraham? Was that something that made you smile a small smile, to know that you had ones who, in their weakness, were willing to give up their sons for you? How Abraham affirmed what you said over what his heart felt, and he found himself loved every time he turned around.
How we find ourselves loved every time we turn around.
Because this is what you came for— we are included. We are included in the inner circle of your love. You are with us, and have always desired to be.
I can’t shake this image from my head – that there was a fierce pride, honor swelling through all of heaven, as they watched Jesus go. The shout of victory shaking the foundations of earth Christmas day. The King had come to save, and that small, weakest form had been taken up by the greatest, strongest spirit, and the combination would bring everything crashing down.
And the victory that would follow, as spirit-Jesus comes back to heaven still claiming the form of man, and takes up all the radiance and glory he had laid down so as not to blind me – I will see it. I have been given eyes to see the glory of the only One, fully man and fully God.
So this… this is joy to our weary world.
Merry Christmas — God is with us.