The other day I told my boss we had a chance to make the sales plan for December because there were two extra days before Christmas. He quipped, ”Did Christmas come on the 23rd last year?” He knew I meant that there were two extra week days prior to Christmas this year versus last and he was just cracking wise, but his point was well made, Christmas comes the same date every year, regardless of when we’d like to have it.
Now in a real sense Christmas is an arbitrary date. Nobody can say when Jesus was actually born, there is no good evidence in Scripture or historical literature that lets us fix an exact date. The only dating tools we really have are the times when Quirinius was Governor of Syria and the the date of Augustus’ census. But there is no evidence to support the notion the shepherds were laying in their fields on a “cold winter’s night that was so deep”.
But despite the fact we have chosen, for our convenience, to celebrate Jesus’ birth at the time of a longstanding Pagan mid-winter festival, God uses Christmas to remind us that however horrid and limited our knowledge of time and sense of timing are, His is perfect.
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
What was the right time for Jesus to come? When was the appropriate moment in history for Him to become God in the flesh and, ultimately, to die for us? While we were still sinners. Not when we had fixed up our lives and somehow become acceptable to Him, but when we were actively at war against Him.
And at Christmas and every other time, that’s still when He comes to us and entreats us to be His. For we are still sinners and there is nothing we can do to change the fact. But God’s timing is perfect. It’s just at the time we are at our worst that He comes to us and reminds us He paid for our life with His.
Whatever the date of Jesus’ birth, every time is the right time to celebrate His coming.