My oldest turns fourteen today. At the end of the month I’ll have a birthday too. Christmas birthdays are rough – everyone’s so busy that it’s hard to get a party together.
But Jesus has it the worst doesn’t He?
At his party everyone else gets all the presents. Sometimes He’s not even invited.
There was a guy who threw a party for Jesus once (Luke 14:1-14). He invited all His friends, and the other religious people in town who would be impressed that he knew the miracle worker from Galilee. The party wasn’t really for Jesus though. It was gift to himself.
Instead of inviting the well-to-do and influential, Jesus said the man should have invited the poor and vulnerable – the people who couldn’t improve his standing in the community or do him any favors in return.
Jesus said a party thrower like that will be repaid by God someday. At the end of days.
Then, Jesus will say to some of us…
“Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”
The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Jesus was born into poverty, no crib for a bed. Into a persecuted powerless race, in a nation suffering under the thumb of Roman oppressors.
Some theologians say when we love the poor we are loving people today who most closely resemble Jesus when he was on earth.
Others say we are somehow actually loving Jesus Himself – that the poor are sacramental in some trancendental way, and looking into their eyes is mysteriously literally looking into the eyes of Christ.
Either way, a party without the poor is a party without the birthday boy Himself. And what kind of party is that?
A party for ourselves.
How are you and yours celebrating with Jesus this Christmas?