You will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. (Psalm 16:10, NIV)
A birth prompts a whole range of responses. One of the most prominent is hope. When a person is born, we begin to imagine the promise of a life well-lived. What will she contribute to the world? Whose life will he change for the better? Questions like these, questions of expectation, are natural as we encounter newborns. And they make perfect sense when it comes to the birth of Jesus—as we encounter this newborn, we look forward to the great things He will accomplish.
An old Christmas carol—“Ring the Bells”—throws a bit of a wrench into our conception of this newborn Jesus. It affirms that He was “born to die that man may live.” Hebrews 2:9 echoes this sentiment, when it says that God the Son became human so that He “might taste death for everyone.” Death certainly doesn’t bring with it thoughts of hope and expectation. Nor should it. The reason Jesus’s death is different is because of what happens three days later. If our Christmas story tells only that Jesus was born to die, we’re missing something essential. Sure, we can say Jesus was born to die. But we need to follow that up with the equally important: Jesus was born to live.
The affirmation of Psalm 16:10 looks ahead to that most famous descendant of David, Jesus, who was born not just to die, but to live. This means everything to the hope and expectation we invest in this newborn at Christmastime. It means as we celebrate His birth we don’t just anticipate His death, but His resurrection as well. It means something even more pointed for us: we, too, were born to live. As you consider the newborn Jesus this Christmas, remember that His birth provides for us the ultimate hope—our own resurrection and life eternal with Him.