Merry Christmas! In our culturally-correct world, of course, these words cause blood pressure to rise, unkind words to be spoken and funny looks given. For those who are followers of Jesus, though, it is not just about having a “happy holiday”, it is about focusing in on the One Who came into the world to offer hope and help to the brokenness we see daily.
The Jesus of history is not a made-up fairy tale foisted on people by the early church who, in their attempts to establish a new religion, elevated a carpenter to Messiahship, knowing that Jesus was just like the rest of us – an ordinary person.
He wasn’t. Christ stepped out of heaven’s glory to walk this earth. As John 1:14 tells us, the “Word”, Jesus, became flesh, and, as one writer put it, “moved into the neighborhood.” The God of Creation left His eternal dwelling and came and lived here on this planet.
Jesus was, as Matthew 1:23 tells us, “Immanuel, God with us.” He came to serve (Mark 10:45) and to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). We all fit that latter category when it comes to the spiritual side of life. I am amazed when I look at the life of Jesus. He performed miracles. He taught truth, making course changes to many of the teachings of the religious elite of His day.
He was kind and compassionate. He also did not have a problem standing up to those who abused and misled others by the words they used. Just read Matthew 23. He offered hope and a future. He also offered life change, something we all need.
History notes not only His existence, but it also speaks of His followers. From Roman historians to the Jewish Josephus (who was not a follower of Christ), there are statements about Jesus, a person of history. Even those who opposed Him did not try to write off His existence.
One writer, as an example, in the mid-first century, an opponent of Jesus and the Christian movement, did not deny that Jesus performed miracles. He simply claimed that Jesus did so as a magician. So even skeptics had to admit that something was different about Jesus, and then came up with their own explanation of how and what He had done.
It is easy to lose the focus of Christmas. Christmas is about Christ. It is not only about His birth into the world, but what the life of the baby born in the manger accomplished. Through His death, burial, and resurrection, He opened the way to a new way of life to all who come to Him by faith recognizing their need for a Savior and asking Him into their lives.
In closing, I would like to share John 3:16-17. Vs. 16 is very familiar, probably the most well-known verse in the Bible. But we cannot overlook vs. 17. It also gives us a picture of the heart of the Lord Jesus.
John 3:16-17 (ESV)
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Jesus came to offer hope. Man is condemned before God because He rejects what God offers and Who Jesus is. But note a few things from these two verses as we wrap things up.
1) God’s love was not simply a word or statement. God’s love is also an action word. Jesus came to offer eternal life to all who believe in Him. It is also crucial to remember that Jesus was not forced to go to the cross. In John 10 Jesus is clear – He chose to die for us. No one had the power or authority to take the life of Christ. He was willing to die for our sins. This is God’s love in action.
2) Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world, but to offer it hope. Look around today. This little sphere that we live on, earth, is full of brokenness. Simply look around and if we are honest in our evaluation, we recognize that the problems of mankind stem from within.
Hatred. Greed. Power. Lies. Slander. The list goes on and on. Sin has damaged life but there is amazing hope…the transforming power of God available to those who put their faith in Jesus Christ. He makes us new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17) and begins to transform us from the inside out.
That is what the hope is that Jesus brings. Not just a promise of eternal life in heaven, but a radically different way of living here on earth. I would encourage you this Christmas season to focus in on the Person of Jesus Christ. If you have accepted Him into your life, allow Him to continue the work within us who know Him, as the Holy Spirit molds us into the image of Christ.
What if you have never put your faith and trust in Jesus? I challenge you to objectively look at the Christian faith. Christianity is a historical belief system. Consider what is said about Jesus and be open to the possibility, no, the truth, that maybe, just maybe, Jesus is the Savior of the world, God come to earth. Merry Christmas!