We often in some way reflect our family lineage. Whether by character traits, physical likeness, or habits and actions, people see in us, if they know our family, certain similarities, sometimes very subtle.
Christmas is like that. Jesus, when He came to earth, revealed to mankind what the character of God was like. Christmas also showed God’s willingness to invest in our lives. What do we mean? God saw the brokenness of man, what we call sin (Rom. 3:10-23). He saw a world that needed guidance (and still does) and was willing to leave heaven and come and take up residence on earth.
Jesus, the Son of God, God the Son, invested in us when He left the glory of heaven and came and walked on this planet. All out of love for all of humanity, past, present and future.
With these thoughts in mind, I want to note a passage in the Bible, John 1:17. This verse tells us that grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. Both of those words are so powerful. Truth, objective truth, is seen in the person and teachings of Jesus.
That other word, grace, is what I want to spend a few moments on. For a little over three years, Jesus made an everlasting impact on this world through His life and teachings. The imprint He left on human history is undeniable. His revealing of what God was really like challenged the mindset of the religious establishment of the day. He was “God come down to earth.”
When He was nearing the end of His earthly life, we read in the Bible that there was a time that He set aside to be with His disciples (the ones who had been with Him since His ministry began) so He could give them some final instructions. This is found in John 13-17.
In John 14, after telling the disciples that He would be leaving and going to heaven to prepare a place for them, and that He would return for them, one of the disciples, Philip, asked Jesus to show the group what God the Father was like, what His character and attributes were.
Jesus’ response was this, “Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father.” Jesus tells them that as they daily watched Him minister and teach, doing so with grace and compassion, they had seen some things about God the Father and what He was like.
With this as a backdrop, let’s just spend a moment reviewing some of the things Jesus did. These also remind us of what God is like and are just as applicable to us today as they were back in the first century.
First, He offered salvation to everyone who would believe in Him. In John 3, He met with Nicodemus, a leading religious leader in Israel, and offered eternal hope to Him. Regardless of who we are, God offers a personal relationship with Him. That is what God is about – offering salvation to the entire world (John 3:16).
Second, He ate with “sinners.” In Matt. 9:9-13, after Matthew had become a follower of Jesus, this new convert threw a party for all his friends. Those who attended were some of the outcasts of society, yet Jesus interacted with them and took heat for doing so.
Many of the religious leaders of the time would have nothing to do with “tax collectors” and “sinners”, Matthew’s guests, and because of their way of thinking, they questioned why Jesus would “dirty” Himself by being with these types of people.
He wasn’t concerned about what others may have thought. He saw needs and met them. It is a reminder to me to not get caught up acting like the religious leaders did, as if we are better than someone else. I am glad Jesus spent time with Matthew’s friends. It is a good thing because it makes me ask if I would have been willing to do the same.
It has been said the church should be both a spiritual university, teaching the Word of God, and also be a spiritual hospital, offering healing and hope for those in need. Well, it should be both, and Jesus showed us those very things – He taught truth and offered hope and help to all.
A third thing was that Jesus offered a new way of living. In His “Sermon on the Mount,” He discussed what a Christ-follower should look like. Note some of the things He said in Matthew, chapters 5-7. For example, He offered hope for people who worry (Matt. 6:25-34).
He challenged us to deal with any offenses we know we may have caused (Matt. 5:21-26). He recognized the need for us to make things right if we know that someone has been offended by us. Taking the high road and trying to make things right is something Christ wants from us.
In this message on the mountain, He also reminded us to be people of our word, “promise keepers”, we could say (Matt. 5:33-37). When we say we will do something, we need to do it. Integrity is important for anybody, and should be embodied in a Christ-follower.
Jesus’ teachings were life-changing, refreshing, and full of grace. So this Christmas, let me encourage you to do a few things:
(1) Read parts of the Gospels and see how Jesus lived and what He said. There were times He was firm with people, like when He confronted the Pharisees in Matt. 23, but even then, when doing so, was pointing people to the truth of Who God was and what He is like. So, read and spend time thinking about Jesus, a life full of grace and truth. Look at some of His interactions with people, from His feeding of the five thousand to His conversation with the woman at the well.
(2) Look for opportunities to show grace to others, by a little act of kindness, an encouraging word, or in a practical way. When we do this, we show the love of Christ to others. Also, pray for times to talk about the Christ of Christmas and how He has changed your life, if you are a follower of Jesus, and how glad you are for remembering the birth of the Savior of the world.
(3) If you are reading this and have not made a decision to become a follower of Jesus, I want to encourage you to keep on seeking, looking objectively into the history of Christianity and of course, the One Whom Christians follow, Jesus.
Merry Christmas and God bless!