When Jesus came to this world only few recognized Him as the Son of God. The Bible says: “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him” (John 1:10 NIV). Therefore Christmas is also the story of the unrecognized Jesus.
Firstly, Jesus was unrecognized because the expectations of people were different. They expected a political deliverer as their Messiah. Naturally they expected him to be born in a palace. Therefore they were unable to recognize Jesus. The same thing happens today too. We expect God to act in certain ways in His dealings with us. When it does not match our expectations, Jesus goes unrecognized even though He is present in our circumstances.
Secondly, Jesus was unrecognized because He chose humility as His garment. God, in the Old Testament, had appeared to Moses and the Israelites in awe-inspiring fashion. The New Testament records that Moses trembled with fear at the terrifying sight (Hebrews 12:21). But Jesus chose to come to men like one of them, even like the lowest of them; like a servant. Such humility was beyond the understanding of many. Even today, we bypass the humility of Jesus.
Thirdly, Jesus was unrecognized because He did not force people to believe in Him. Though Jesus claimed that He was the Son of God, He never compelled people to believe in Him. That was not the way in which other kingdoms of the world advanced. They all advanced by use of force. Even today, Jesus does not use force to compel people to believe in Him. His message is different. It is one of love and sacrifice. For He came to seek and to save what was lost. And His seeking is one of gentle yet persistent love. But still He is rejected by many.
Even as you reflect on these realities, the questions that shall haunt you this Christmas have become very clear. These questions concern the unrecognized Jesus:
Are your expectations of Santa Claus confused with your expectations of Jesus?
Are you wishing to have the humility of Jesus? Having His humility would mean a giving up of many privileges. For Jesus gave up His equality with God in heaven to come down to earth as man!
And finally, would you recognize the force of Jesus’ love that does not force itself upon you?