I am not talking about getting extra days off for the Christmas holidays or ways to double the amount of gifts there will be under the Christmas tree. I am talking about doubling the powerful meaning behind the Christmas story.
We all know Christmas celebrates the miraculous birth of the Lord on earth and His divine mission to save humankind. But for this to happen we must receive the Lord into our hearts.
What most observers of this holy occasion miss is that the challenges of receiving the Lord into our hearts represent the deeper story within the Christmas story.
Holy Scripture is the inspired Word of God. It is not merely a historical account of men who were witnesses to the Lord’s life and ministry. Everything written in the Holy Word represented a sacred communication between God and those chosen to hear His words.
This inspired writing was derived from God’s wisdom flowing from heaven into the minds of the Bible’s writers. As such, all the words used had to have heavenly—not simply worldly—meanings. In order to have heavenly meanings, the words used to convey all the stories of the Bible had to do double duty. They had to portray both a historical narrative and communicate, by metaphor, God’s unceasing efforts at saving the human race.
Therefore, a deeper, heavenly meaning can be distilled from all the terrestrial events of the Christmas story as well. This deeper meaning, as I hinted above, has to do with the difficulty of our personally receiving the Lord into our hearts. This difficulty is represented by there being no room at the Inn in the city.
Understood literally, this part of the Christmas story only tells us that Joseph and Mary ran into some bad luck and had to leave the city and settle for giving birth in a manger. But this scenario symbolizes a more profound truth and has relevance to each one of us, and the post-modern world.
The manger represents the birth of the Lord within our hearts. Why? Animals in Scripture symbolize various affections and qualities of love. A manger is a place where animals are cared for and fed. So a manger represents a place of instruction where the human heart is cared for and fed. Acceptance of religious instruction is necessary for the Lord to be received and begin to live in our hearts—away from the busy city and worldly cares that leave no room for the Lord or a religious life.
Christmas time can be a strong reminder to us that we also need to provide proper housing for the Lord. So let us celebrate a double Christmas—the birth of the Lord into the world and the birth of the Lord and His teachings into our hearts!