29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one about whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is really greater than me because he existed before me.’ 31 Even I didn’t recognize him, but I came baptizing with water so that he might be made known to Israel.” 32 John testified, “I saw the Spirit coming down from heaven like a dove, and it rested on him. 33 Even I didn’t recognize him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit coming down and resting is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’
By now, all the Christmas trees are down, and the presents are tucked away. The wrapping paper has been thrown out and things are back to normal. Christmas 2023 is just a memory and Christmas 2024 is still a long time away.
But we shouldn’t be finished with Christmas. There’s a question from Christmas that we should ask every day of the year. And the answer should drive us to live a godly life.
We liked attending a candlelight service on Christmas Eve. One year a little girl sang, “What a strange way to save the world.” The lyrics are expressed from Joseph’s perspective.
Eight words in particular stood out for me. As the stanzas unfold, each one begins with a stirring question. By the time the song is complete, Joseph has wondered, “Why me? Why her? Why here? Why him?” as he marvels at God’s strange plan to save the world.
We still ponder that strange plan, even though it’s now 2,000 years later. God could have chosen Jesus’ father figure to be a king or a statesman or a millionaire or a warrior.
He could have selected a more noteworthy woman than the teenager named Mary.
God could have picked a location more populated or influential than sleepy Bethlehem.
And the Creator of the Universe could have designated the Savior to be someone more esteemed than the son of a carpenter. Other questions are raised along the way as well, such as why Jesus would surround himself with outcasts and commoners such as fishermen.
But there is another question that begs to be asked on Christmas morning. A question we all should ask—“Why us?” Why did God send Jesus to this planet, knowing that so many would ignore him; knowing that his son would die such a painful death?
I asked myself, “Why me?” knowing that I disappoint him more often than I please him.
Someone might answer by quoting John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” To that I reply, thank God. But it still doesn’t answer my question, “Why me?”
I really don’t understand a love so deep because my love seems so shallow. That’s when another Scripture helps me tremendously. It’s one of my favorite passages in the Bible.
Turn to 1 John 3:1. If it’s not underlined or highlighted in your Bible, you might want to break out a pen. John wrote these wonderful words, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
A friend and journalism mentor once told me it was OK to use an exclamation point —every 10 years when writing. But if ever an exclamation point is warranted, it’s with this passage. I would have been forced to add them if the translators hadn’t done so, because that’s what it does to my heart.
Why me? Because God wants me as his child. I still don’t understand that, but I understand about being a parent. I understand the unconditional love I have for my daughters. And I understand lavishing love on them, though my lavishing falls far short of the lavishing of my Heavenly Father.
And now, John 3:16 makes more sense.
It’s an answer that can bring us joy and peace all year.
by Rick Reed
For Pondering & Prayer
Why us? Why me? It’s always a good time to ask those questions, because what God has done in Jesus has made it so that we can always be happy with the answer.
Prayer: Oh Lord, what a strange plan you made to save the world. Why me? Exactly. Amen.