Jesus challenges our definition of greatness. He tells his disciples that the last shall be first and that the first shall be last. This goes far beyond mere teaching, however, as Jesus’ birth, life, ministry, and sacrificial death powerfully demonstrate and exemplify this definition of greatness. Jesus comes to earth, not to be served but to serve. This was a challenge to James and John, and it remains a challenge to us today to pursue greatness through humble servanthood.
Luke begins his Gospel account with John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus. John is an amazing man of God, whom the Old Testament prophets, Isaiah and Micah referred to as the one who goes before the Lord and prepares the way. This is the same John who says that the one who comes after him is greater than he, whose sandals he is unworthy to untie.
Often we look to Matthew and Luke’s gospels during the Christmas Season, as they beautifully and powerfully narrate the birth of Jesus and surrounding events. John’s gospel, on the contrary, may not seem very christmasy on the surface, as he does not narrate many of the events surrounding Jesus’ birth. Instead, John goes back to the beginning of time, to creation itself, for his readers to see and understand that Jesus is more than a man. He is Emmanuel, God with us.
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. He not only brings hope to a lost world; He is the very hope of God to the world, which all of scripture has been pointing to since the beginning. To celebrate the birth of Jesus is to celebrate God’s faithfulness in fulfilling his promises.