Wednesday, December 24, 2014

What Child is This?

Ah! The Christmas season! It’s been almost since a month since I last posted. I could not let this day go by without posting. Christmas is my favorite holiday! The crisp air, the joyful hails of “merry Christmas!,” the annual Christmas specials, the lights, the bells, the carols, and the joy all around make this the most wonderful time of the year. But the hustle and bustle can distract us from the point of this holiday, the Babe lying in a manger over 2000 years ago. But what’s the point? Who was this Child? Why is his birth one of the most important events of all history, so important that we measure our dates by it? In short, what Child is this?

Before I can explain who this Baby was, we need to see why He had to come. Almost 6000 years ago, God created this universe. He designed it to be a perfect world but man rebelled. God gave us His definition of good and evil, written in the Ten Commandments and upon the tablets of our conscience. But we consistently rebel. Adam and Eve, the first humans, were the first to violate God’s law, the first to sin. Through them, sin entered the world and God’s creation was marred by evil. Since that time, every person born has continued to sin, save One.

Before I explain who that One was, let’s take a look at the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments, writ by the hand of God and given to Moses on Mount Sinai show us God’s standard of good and evil. Examine yourself by those commandants for a moment. If you have lied, God sees you as a liar (Exodus 20:13). If you have stolen, God sees you as a thief (Exodus 20:15). If you have taken God’s name in vain, you are a blasphemer (Exodus 20:7). If you have looked at someone with lust, God sees that as adultery (Exodus 20:14, Matthew 5:27-28). The punishment for sin is death (Romans 6:23.) This death is Hell for eternity. Don’t deceive yourself by thinking that God will let you go because He is an understanding or good God. Because He is good, He must also be just. God must punish sin. Because of our sins, every one of us is condemned to Hell for all of eternity.

But, that’s not the end of the story! God still loved us and longed to rescue us from sin. He know that a sinless sacrifice, worthy to take the punishment for the sins of the world, had to be offered. God came to earth in the form of Jesus Christ. On that Christmas, so long ago, Jesus was born in that stable in Bethlehem.

Shepherds were the first to meet Christ. These humble, simple, poor men were those God chose to welcome His son into the world. The shepherds were watching over their flocks when they were surrounded by angles, praising God and telling of the Baby in the manger. The shepherds found Christ and voiced His birth abroad. Still today, those who are humble and simple will find Christ.

Another group is commonly said to have met Jesus on that night (though it was likely a couple years later): The Wisemen. The Magi came from the East, following a brilliant star. When they found Christ, they worshipped him and bestowed upon Him three gifts, Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. The first gift symbolized his divinity and royal status. The latter two gifts were spices used in the burial process. Why in the world would the Magi give Christ spices used after death? Because of the reason Jesus came.

Jesus grew up and began teaching. He became a popular traveling teacher. But His sermons rose controversy. He declared Himself to be God through several actions. This challenged the rule of the Jewish leaders and they got the Roman authorities to crucify Christ. As Christ stood trial, those who had worshipped Him days before, those He came to save, screamed “crucify Him!” Christ was killed. But none of this was by accident.

Hundreds of years earlier, the Jewish prophet Isaiah wrote this concerning Christ, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?”

Read those words again. Listen to them. Jesus, the holy Son of God, the only sinless man, was considered smitten and cursed by God. He was pierced and struck for the sins we did. For our transgressions, he was crushed and wounded. He never called our in His defense, never uttered a plea. He took the cross like a true servant. The judgment we deserved, was placed upon Him. Christ was stripped, whipped, struck, poked, spat upon, dehydrated, weary, impaled, hung on the cross in excruciating pain, and suffocated for our sin. Not only this, while all these were going on, God the father turned His back. Christ was cut off and took all the punishment for every sin ever committed, for us! Then Jesus Christ, the Son of God, said, “it is finished” and died.

But wait, there’s more! For three days he lay in a tomb. On the third day, He rose again, defeating death! He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of his Father, as King of kings and Lord of lords. One day, He will return and finally destroy sin. However, Christ will not push his sacrifice on anyone. He wants us to surrender, repent (turn from) our sins, and trust in Him. If you have never done this, please, do this Christmas. Jesus is waiting to save you. The alternative is getting what you deserve, namely, Hell.

So, what Child is this? Who was Christ? “This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing; haste, haste, to bring Him laud [praise], the Babe, the Son of Mary.” “Nails, spear shall pierce Him through, the cross be borne for me, for you. Hail, hail the Word made flesh, the Babe, the Son of Mary.” “Raise, raise a song on high, the virgin sings her lullaby. Joy, joy for Christ is born, the Babe, the Son of Mary.”

Merry Christmas everyone! Happy birthday Jesus! May your Christmas be filled with the joy of God and the love of Christ!  

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Feel free to comment! One of the reasons I blog is to interact with my readers. Don't hesitate to leave your thoughts or contact me with any comments, questions, or concerns. - James