Putting Jesus Away

by Dale Reeves

Story Pastor


The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is filled with a variety of activities. Whether you are off work, still traveling for the holidays, returning Christmas gifts, going to the movie theater, watching a lot of football bowl games, binge watching series on TV, or catching up on much-needed sleep, at some point you must face the music—and take down the Christmas decorations! Some people choose to wait and do this after the first of the year. We will still see Christmas lights outside people’s homes for a while, and some even leave them up for months.

As a child growing up, I always enjoyed the nativity display at a church in North College Hill that positioned the wise men—not at the manger—but on the other side of the front yard. They did this to emphasize the point that the Magi came to visit the young Messiah some time later after his birth, when Jesus’ parents were living in a house (see Matthew 2:9-11). Some churches observe “Epiphany” on January 6, celebrating the time when the Magi came and worshiped the Christ child, officially ending the “Twelve Days of Christmas.” Epiphany comes from the Greek word meaning “to reveal,” commemorating this event when Jesus was physically “revealed” to the Gentile world.

Contrary to popular nativity scenes and paintings, the astrologers from the east were not present at the same time that the shepherds came to worship the baby. King Herod ordered all male children under two years of age to be murdered when he realized the magi were not coming back to tell him where Christ was born. That’s why many scholars believe that the Christ child could have been up to two years old when the Magi presented their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.


Packing Him Up

Unless you plan on leaving your nativity display up in your house for two more years, you’ll probably pack up Mary, Joseph, the angels, shepherds, wise men, animals, and baby Jesus for safekeeping until next year. One year as a family was packing up their nativity display to be stored away until next December, a young child in the family innocently asked, “We’re putting Jesus away in a box until next year?” Out of the mouth of babes!

While the baby Jesus and the rest of the figures in the Christmas story may go back in their appropriate box, the incarnation of Jesus Christ was never meant to be boxed up. As a matter of fact, Christ should be on display in our homes—and in our lives—all throughout the year!


The Incarnation

Incarnation is a term that means “the act of being made flesh.” It comes from the Latin version of John 1:14, which reads, And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (ESV). I love how The Message paraphrase renders this verse: The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”

The miracle of Christmas is that God the Father sent God the Son down to Earth to walk this planet in human flesh. He moved into our neighborhood! The New Testament demonstrates Jesus’ humanity numerous times—he needed sleep, he ate food, he perspired, he bled, he expressed human emotions such as joy, anger, and sorrow. The purpose of his incarnation was to be born under the law (Galatians 4:4), fulfill the law, and then redeem all mankind through his perfect sacrifice.

Author and radio host Eric Metaxas has said, “Jesus did not only communicate ideas and concepts and rules and principles for living. He lived. And by living with his disciples, he showed them what life was supposed to look like, what God had intended it to look like. It was not merely intellectual or merely spiritual. It was all these things together.”

So, how do you live out Christ’s incarnation today? How do you make sure you don’t just keep Jesus in a box until next Christmas? How is Jesus specifically calling you to shine his light in the dark places that desperately need his light? Want to keep Christ in “Christ”mas? Feed the hungry, comfort the afflicted, love the outcast, forgive the wrongdoer, inspire the hopeless.

How can you “live out of the box” in 2022?  May this year be one in which you commit to unboxing the incarnation of Jesus in your life by the way you worship and obey him, and by the way you love others—inviting them into the abundant life that Jesus offers.

Leave a Reply