December 22, 2010

“J” and “B”

If today’s media existed 21 centuries ago, all news networks would have been concentrated on the exploits of the powerful and profligate Roman Empire. It was as vast as it was vicious. The attention of the entire world was riveted on the city of seven hills as its leaders swept across nations and nobility like the ashes of recent volcanoes. Its political intrigue, racial tensions, immorality, cruelty, and military exploits occupied everyone’s conversation, much as the United States’ does today. Palestine existed under the crush of Rome’s heavy boot during the reign of Augustus, its cynical Caesar, who demanded a census to determine how much he could increase its taxes (Luke 2:1-7).
No one seemed interested in a motley crew of Jews making an 80-mile trek from Nazareth to the city of David called Bethlehem. Few, if any, cared about a man and a very pregnant peasant girl riding on a donkey. Rome was busy making history; Judeans were hustling to their city of origin when God was born in a barn to save humanity. Only angels seemed aware of it (Luke 2:8-15).
2010 1541 page17Tune to any radio station today and you’ll learn who saw mommy kissing Santa Claus last night. You’ll discover when Santa’s coming to town with Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer, past the homes of children who were naughty, to the chimneys of the nice. But there’s little mention of the birth of Mary’s Boy Child. Kris Kringel might perform a miracle on 34th Street in digitally improved old movies, but you’ll find few facts in today’s media about the incredible event when God became human and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.
Even before Thanksgiving, we were being bombarded with Christmas songs, the most persistent of which was “Jingle Bells.” A creative DJ introduced it as the “J” and “B” song. If we really want our bells to jingle this Christmas, we must remember that “J” and “B” can stand for something else—such as “Jesus” and His “blood.” While we are buying and wrapping gifts, decorating trees, and baking cakes to prepare for this very special holiday, we mustn’t forget “J” and “B.”
If you feel compelled to correct others who celebrate December 25 as the birth of Jesus because you know for a fact that He was actually born in the spring (March to April, 4 B.C.), don’t forget that the reason for the season is “J” and “B.” If you are distraught about Christmas trees in some of our sanctuaries, remember that Ellen White recommended this use of them (see The Adventist Home, pp. 482, 483). Just don’t forget: it’s all about “J” and “B.”
God became the Man Jesus to fulfill a powerful promise to save the world. He took the form of fallen humanity to enter into the bloody battle for our souls against the wiles of the devil. He shed His blood on Calvary’s tree to rescue and redeem us. So don’t forget “J” and “B.”
“J” and “B” can also stand for “Jesus” and His “Book.” The Bible is the gift that keeps giving messages of hope and answers to a planet spinning out of control. A recent Gallup poll reports that 90 percent of the homes in the United States have a Bible, but in only 14 percent are they opened. When you open your gifts Christmas morning to the heartwarming sounds of “Jingle Bells,” don’t be like the rest of the nation and forget “J” and “B.” The good news is that in this Book the Holy Trinity is well pleased with us; so don’t forget “J” and “B.”
“J” and “B” could also stand for “Jesus” and His “birth.” God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that we might be redeemed, that we might receive the adoption of sons and daughters (see John 3:16 and Gal. 4:4, 5). This holiday season when you hear “Jingle Bells,” don’t forget we wouldn’t have this season if it weren’t for “J” and “B.” May God richly bless you!
Have a safe, awesome Christmas and new year!
Hyveth Williams is a professor of Homiletics at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary. This article was published December 23, 2010.