On November 29, I did a post about a passage of scripture not usually associated with Advent or Christmas: Romans 11:33-36. As noted in the post, Romans 11 reminds us to give thanks that God came to earth in the form of his one and only Son. There are, of course, numerous other passages of scripture that remind us of many things about Jesus and perhaps should be added to the standard scriptures read during the celebration and remembrance of Jesus’s birth.
Take Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV), for example: “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Christians are sometimes loath to mix Christ’s birth with his crucifixion. While understandable, it’s probably shortsighted to separate the two. Jesus was born to save us by dying on the cross. At the same time, it’s heartbreakingly gruesome to think of the sweet Christ child shamefully hanging on a cross thirty years later.
In a way, the passage from Hebrews 12 gives us a reason for doing exactly that. “Fixing our eyes on Jesus” compels us to look at the whole of Jesus. As we think about the birth of Jesus, we often speak and sing in terms of joy. Hebrews 12 tells us that Jesus persevered through his entire life with a spirit of joy. He even endured the cross for “the joy set before him.”
So let us fix our eyes on Jesus as we remember his birth with joy. And like Jesus, let us be joyful as we consider the remainder of his life, including his death. Remembering with the kind of joy Jesus expressed will help us persevere in the faith perfected by Jesus.