"For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45) This statement from Jesus tells us why he was born. This is the reason that the Eternal Son of God took on flesh and came into this world as a human was to give his life as a ransom for many. By our sins, we owed a debt to God which we could never repay. Jesus became a human in order to live a human life, die a human death, and bear the punishment we humans justly deserved. As God, his life holds an infinite value and his righteousness is without measure. As both God and man, Jesus was able to pay the price for our sins so that we could be declared righteous and given a right relationship with God. Why would God do such a thing? John 3:16 declares that God acted due to his great love for us. God's love free and generous. As we celebrate Christmas, we remember the greatest demonstration of God's love - the sending of his son to die for sinners - and we grow in our love for him in return.
First Peter 1:10-12 informs us that prophets and angels longed to see the time of fulfillment when Jesus would be born and salvation would be accomplished. The angles longed to see this as those who knew no grace - fallen angels are not offered salvation! It is fallen humans God saves. (Hebrews 2:16-17) The prophets longed to see the fulfillment of God's promise first spoken to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:15. We have the privilege of living in the time of fulfillment! Our situation is good! Jesus has come, lived, died, and been raised from the dead. He has paid the price for our sins and offers us forgiveness and eternal life in a right relationship with the Father. Regardless of our outward circumstances, our situation as Christians is exceptionally good. May we find joy as we remember the gift we have been given.
In Matthew 1:18-25 we read about the angel announcing to Joseph that Mary will give birth to a unique son by the work of the Holy Spirit. He is told that the child will be called, "Immanuel," a name meaning, "God with us." More, he will be named, "Jesus," a name meaning, "Yahweh saves." The angel then proclaims that this child will save his people from their sins. The incredible miracle of Christmas is that God the Son became human in order to save humans from the penalty of sin by his own death on the cross. This saving work is GOD's work which we humans merely receive by faith and not by works. Romans 5:1 tells us that, being made righteous by faith, we have peace with God. Through faith in Jesus we receive the gift of peace with God. Remember that this depends entirely on Jesus who came to save rather than on our efforts or performance. If Jesus is your Lord, then you have peace with God.
Advent is a Latin word meaning, "Coming." In the tradition of the church, it is the name given to the four Sundays leading up to Christmas during which we prepare our hearts to celebrate the birth of Jesus. The theme of the first Sunday was HOPE. In Luke 1:46-55, Mary praised God for his work in sending Jesus. She praised him that he was keeping his promises made long ago and expressed faith that he would rescue his people. We look back on the coming of Jesus and know that he was born, lived, died on the cross, and that he was raised from the dead. We have the hope that all who repent of their sins and confess Jesus as Lord are forgiven, granted eternal life, and are given a glorious future. Knowing that God has kept his promises, we have the sure hope that he will keep his promises - that Jesus will return in power and glory to deliver his people from this age to live with him forever! As you see Christmas decorations all around this month, let them remind you that Jesus has come and that he will come and to have great hope.