Merry Christmas to you and your family!
The landscape of the Christmas Season is one of miss-directions, for the Christmas season takes us down many paths. One path we may be pulled in is the remembering Jesus and his birth, and that is a good thing. Other paths are but miss-directions, and not so good. For instance the season may lead us to dwell on our current troubles, or past experiences that we would just as soon take a breather from then reminisce about, but those troubles and memories keep popping up in all their rawness. The season may pull us toward some temptations or habit that we are weak in, and therefore Christmas becomes a time of extra diligence on our part to avoid temptation.
In a season that is miss-directed let us open our Bibles and see the true reason for the season: 1. 1John 3:5, “He appeared so that he might take away our sins.”
2. 1John 3:8, “The reason the son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.”
3. John 14:9 [Jesus said] “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” I ask that I may comment here, so as you do not miss my point; Jesus came to reveal God to us.
4. Heb 9:28, “… He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” Again I comment; Jesus came so that he can come back again.
Why He Came,
Matthew 12 contains two stories about working on the Sabbath – Saturday. One is about Jesus and his disciples picking and eating grain, and the other is about Jesus healing a man with a withered hand. Both actions were criticized by the Pharisees, for they saw it as breaking the 4th commandment, “Keep the Sabbath holy.”
Physical condition in the Bible is always emblematic of spiritual condition, thus we see mankind’s spiritual condition in the two stories: Our insatiable needs, suffering, and incompetence. In response to his critics Jesus asked, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath day to do good or to do harm?”
What is God’s answer to this question? God is such that in the presence of human failings He must either help or harm, and he cannot harm; he must either save or kill, and he cannot kill. Therefore, we have Calvary, the cross, the Son’s blood, the breaking of God’s heart, and the sacrifice by which he lifts crushed, bruised, broken humanity and remakes it.
What then is the Christian’s answer to this question? No Christian who comes into the presence of a failed, and sorrowful person can pass them by because, like God, we must either help or harm, and seeing as we are not to harm, we must help. In the presence of a hungry spirit, and a withered life we must tell about Jesus. Not to do so, is to be complicit in the forces that destroy.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul.” Jesus invites people to “come,” and in so doing they will have rest. “Take my yoke,” means become a follower of Jesus. If a person accepts Jesus’ invitation they will “learn” from him, and find rest for their souls.
What is this rest that Jesus offers? Jesus said of the people, “They were like sheep without a shepherd.” He meant they were: Sorrowful, suffering, wave-tossed, tired, wearied, and heavy-laden people. Thus in His invitation He is saying, “All your restlessness is caused by the lack of God in your life. If you could know God all your restlessness would cease, but you cannot know Him except through me. If you will come to Me, I will reveal God to you, and you will find rest.”
Jesus’ invitation is music to our ears, and a balm to our souls, and that is because He does not offer pity, but he offers the power to overcome. His invitation is not an opiate that puts us to sleep, but an offer of a life that awakens us to what we were meant to be – something holy. Jesus’ invites us to get right with God, and that can only be done through Him.
John the Baptist preached the truth, and for that he suffered imprisonment from King Herod. A question that often arises out of suffering is, “Why does God allow the Christian to suffer?” After all when we became a Christian we were not looking to join the suffering Olympics, but we find that as Christians we do suffer.
2Corinthians 1 gives us several answers to our question. The first answer is found in verse 4, “So that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” There is a saying that, “Bruises attract one another.” The saying means that from our suffering we learn to comfort another who is suffering.
Another reason we are allowed to suffer is seen just a few verses later, “That we might not rely on ourselves, but on God” (9). This means that God allows us to suffer so that we will not trust ourselves, but learn to trust in God. It has been said, “Our self-pride is smashed most effectively when suffering happens.”
A third reason for suffering is found in verse 11, “Then many will give thanks” (11). It has also been said that, “Pain plants the flag of reality in the fortress of a rebel’s heart.” When God wants to do an impossible task, He takes an impossible individual and allows him to suffer. The best example of this is Paul on the road to Damascus in Act 9.