Have you ever had someone say to you, “you’re not from around here, are you?” The intention behind such a statement is usually “you don’t understand us” or “you don’t really belong.” With that underlying premise such a statement can be quite hurtful let alone untrue.
Yet I was recently reflecting on how true this statement is in relation to Christmas. In particular I believe it is a statement that could be said of Jesus. Let me explain.
The simple message of Christmas is that Jesus, the Son of God, left his Father’s throne and came to earth. This is the ultimate example of “you are not from around here.” Yet that fact should be even more obvious when you take into account that the reason why Jesus is “not from around here” is because He created “here.”
Now that we have established Jesus is “not from around here,” the question we need to ask is “what lies behind that statement for each of us?” What is the underlying intention in our words? Are we saying I don’t want anything to do with Jesus because he is not from around here? Are we implying that because he is not from around here that he doesn’t understand me or have anything to offer? Such thoughts are sadly missing the point.
I put it to you that it is precisely because Jesus is not from around here but that He came here that we need to be paying attention. Ask yourself, why would the second person of the Trinity be willing to take on human flesh and be found as a baby born in ancient Israel? It can’t be because he wanted to tick it off his bucket list!
This is where the message of the angels in Luke is helpful. The archangel makes it very clear Jesus has come as Saviour, born this day in the city of David. He has come to “here” (earth) because of our need of a saviour.
Yet even more striking is because Jesus wasn’t from here but indeed came here – he is now able to understand our situation. As it says in Hebrews 4:15:
“We do not have a high priest unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet he did not sin.”
That is why I think I can willingly and humbly say at Christmas, “Lord Jesus you are not from around here, but I am so glad you came here because you know what it is like to be ‘here’. And Lord Jesus because you came ‘here’ motivated by grace, I like the magi, will bow in worship and bring you my life, my praise, my all. Lord Jesus, you aren’t from around here, are you? And for that I exclaim, ‘Hallelujah!’”
Greg Harris is the Rector and Senior Minister at Holy Trinity Bendigo
and Archdeacon of Bendigo