Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas-Luke 2:11

I pray that you are having a blessed Christmas time with your family and that you were blessed by giving and receiving gifts in the presence of your loved ones. However, let’s make sure as we celebrate this day that we remember what the real reason for the season is—the birth of Jesus.

In the 2nd chapter of his gospel account, Luke writes that an angel of the Lord announced to some shepherds that the Messiah had arrived right then-in the present tense, at that very moment. Notice in verse 11 the angel says “today”. The Jewish people had been waiting for years for the Messiah to arrive. On that blessed night so many years ago, those shepherds were told the waiting was over. Finally, after all those years the Lord had come just as He had promised. Redemption was no longer just some far off concept but now was a present tense reality.

Not only that, but the angel told the shepherds that that didn’t have to take some else’s word for it—they could go themselves and be in the presence of the Messiah. The angel told them the Messiah was in “the city of David” or Bethlehem. These men would not have to make a long, arduous journey fraught with peril to see Jesus but rather He was very near to them. They didn’t have to imagine what seeing the Lord would be like but instead they could be in His presence themselves since they were so close.

Furthermore, these men were told that God had given the world a gift—in my mind it was the first Christmas present. As Psalm 127:3 says “Children are a gift of the Lord” these men were told that in Bethlehem a baby had been born. There are people who are not able to have children. That is a difficult situation and is most painful. People in that situation come to realize that only God can give a couple children and that when someone does have a child that God has given them a wonderful gift. God, in sending Jesus, gave the world the most generous present He could give.

These shepherds were also told this gift was personal. The child had been born “for you” the angel had said. If you are going to accept this love gift from God, you must personally accept it. I had a good friend of mine in youth group when I was a young man. I asked him about his testimony and he said “Oh, I’m a Christian. My parents are real strong in the Lord.” Friends, that’s not how it works. If Jesus is your Lord you must personally submit to Him. You don’t have a saving relationship with Him because of how strong or weak your parent’s faith was or the faith of anyone else. You must come to Christ yourself.

And you must come to Christ for salvation. You need salvation from the sickness that is in your soul. Each and every person is born with an incurable spiritual cancer—the cancer of sin. There is nothing you or any other person you know can do. However, God has a prescription for your sickness. As the angel told these shepherds that this baby had been born as a “Savior”. He can to rescue people who were unable to save themselves. By living a perfect life and dying on a cross He paid the price for sin. The sickness of sin that is deadly to your soul can be cured. God, on account of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection forgives sinners when they repent and place their faith and trust in Jesus.

Jesus was able to provide this salvation because He had the power to do so. The angel tells the shepherds that Jesus was “Christ the Lord”. As Christ, He was anointed by God to carry out the mission of salvation. But God had used people through all human history and continues to do so. While the position of Christ (the Greek word for Messiah) was special and unique to Jesus that is not the only title He bore. He was also Lord—God in human flesh. He was as much God as God ever was even though He willingly gave up the right to act as God apart from the will of the Father. Because He was fully God, He had the power to provide the cure for sin by becoming the atonement for sin on Calvary’s cross.

Friends, this is the story of Christmas. Not that we loved God but rather that He loved us. All people are called to repent of their sins and believe in Jesus for salvation. The true hope of the holidays is that God is a forgiving God and that Jesus is the one who died to provide that forgiveness.

Have a Merry Christmas.

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