HOW MUCH DID CHRISTMAS COST?
By Steve Bietz
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16, KJV
Have you ever sang “The Twelve Days Of Christmas”? The song is not only interminably long–it is unabashedly materialistic in its obsession with gift-getting. Since 1984 PNC Wealth Management has been calculating the costs of Christmas via these 12 gifts (“a partridge in a pear tree,” etc). They have calculated that if you buy each item in the song just once it will cost you $38,993. You will spend $170,298 if you buy the gifts the songs prescribed number of times! So how much does Christmas really cost? How much was spent that first Christmas some 2000 years ago?
Let’s see. We had a blue-collar self-employed carpenter and his pregnant fiance, both of them lower class, whose income no doubt was best rendered “hand to mouth.” Because of the Roman tax edict, the couple locked up his carpenter shop (planning to be back in a few days) and journeyed to “O little town of Bethlehem,” where all they got was a string of “No Vacancy” signs.
So in the damp smelly darkness of a backyard cave stable the woman’s Babe was born, His crib a prickly box of cow feed, His visitors a motley band of unsavory shepherds who, in astonishment, bowed before this Baby the herald angels declared to be the Messiah. But angelic pronouncement notwithstanding, the Baby-makes-three little family was still dirt poor. Had it not been for the extravagant gifts of the band of nomadic Arab sages, the family would never have financially survived their flight to Egypt as impoverished migrants.
The first Christmas could hardly be described as much more than a bargain-basement bust. Unless, of course, you calculate the costs from the other side of the universe, the astronomical costs of the One who did all the giving that one-star night long ago. “For God so loved the world that He gave…” Wooden manager, wooden cross, He gave it all. In the book Desire Of Ages, written by Ellen White, she describes the price of the first Christmas in this manner.”The gift of Christ reveals the Father’s heart.” On Christmas, God emptied His treasury for us.
The young mother, frazzled and spent from hanging on to her two children and all their Christmas shopping bags, stepped into a crowded elevator. The holiday mania had taken its toll. Even the cost of her purchases had left her dizzy. As the doors closed, she blurted out, “Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up, and shot.” From the back of the elevator car, a voice responded, “Don’t worry; we’ve already found Him and strung Him up and crucified Him.” I am told that the rest of the way down you could have heard a pin drop.
How much will Christmas cost you and yours this year? Even if you went out and purchased the products of The Twelve Days of Christmas, you could never come close to what heaven spent for you and me. Maybe a partridge in a pear tree would be a great gift.
But may we lift our voices and sing a song that goes way beyond The Twelve Days of Christmas. I want to sing “Joy To The World, The Lord Is Come!”