Friday, December 26, 2008

The Day After

C'mon, let's be honest here. What do you really think about Christmas? Now the day after is here and you can reflect a bit. Here's a few questions to consider:

Did you get everything you wanted?

How did you and the in-laws get along this year?

Were the kids perfectly behaved and grateful for everything they got?

How was the food? Did you eat too much?

How many different versions of the Christmas story did you hear or tell? In other words, what did you tell folks what Christmas is really all about?

I'll stop there because that's one of the questions I want to focus on first. Then I'll talk about the one's above it.

What is Christmas really all about? When folks ask me that I give the usual jaw-dropping answer, "It's December 25th, just another day." Both the world and Christians expect something more. But it is nothing more.

The birth of Jesus, God incarnate, is certainly profound. But not in and of itself. Our Lord Jesus Christ came into the world a baby but did not stay so. Just as He is still not hanging on the cross (as so many idols portray Him today), He is still not lieing in a manger. In fact, the eternal view of Jesus is as John described Him, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

John saw Jesus in many ways during their lifetimes together on earth. He saw Him in person for approximately three years, first as a man of some thirty-years old, and finally, on Jesus' last day on earth as Son of Man, as Christ crucified. Three days later John saw Him again and for fifty days onward saw Him still bearing the marks of that awful day. Then, in the Revelation, John saw Him that way again, as a Lamb slain.

When we meet Jesus someday in the air with the rest of the saints, this is how we will see Him. We will not see Him as a baby. We will not see Him on the cross. We will not see Him unmarked. Do you know why He will look this way?

Remember when Jesus came out of the tomb and was met on the way by two disciples? They did not recognize Him. Not even Mary recognized Him at first until He spoke her name. She confused Him with the gardener. Why?

Because He arose just as He descended, as the Lamb slain. Isaiah saw Him this way hundreds of years before the event (Isaiah 53). The disciples saw Him this way after His resurrection. John's last vision of Jesus as Son of man describes Him in a glorious way (Revelation 1:14-15). Nevertheless, Jesus will always be throughout eternity known in this most profound way - the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8).

The good news of His birth (not Christmas as we know it) is simply a matter of historical fact leading to this final triumph over sin. The Atonement bought sinful mankind back into righteous relationship to our holy God. The cost of redemption was the very lifeblood of His Son.

The birth of Jesus is therefore all about sin and salvation. He was born of water and blood (I John 5:6). He died in blood and water (John 19:34). Did you notice how these two verses switch the order of these components? In His birth it was all about the water (that of His earthly monther's womb). In His death, it was all about His blood.

You see therefore that there is nothing to celebrate about the first without dwelling upon the latter. There really is no other story. Adding or taking away from it is wicked. And that's just what the world and the churches have done over the past two-thousand plus years.

There is no commandment to celebrate Christmas. Neither are there words in the Bible to condone this practice in any way. It was mankind's addition and tradition that came about sometime in the fourth century AD, initiated by a pope of the Catholic church shortly after Christianity was legalized in Rome. The pope wanted to make the most of it and gain popular opinion for "Christianity" by combining Christmas with the winter solstice, a pagan holiday most popular in the day.

Just about everything we hold sacred and true about the holiday is first affixed to the pagan rituals. The tree, the greens, the caroling, the mistletoe, the gift giving - these are all pagan. They are still pagan.

Now you can't argue with history and so while you may necessarily agree with all that's said, you may argue still, what's wrong with all that? What's the harm? What about the children?

That gets to the second point as I remind you of the first set of questions at the beginning of this post. I sum up the set of possible answers to them in one word - disappointment. That's what sin does. It is probably the most tolerated evil in the world because it always leaves room for hope. Maybe next year. I can always exchange it. They'll grow out of it. The rationales go on and on.

There is no hope except in our Lord Jesus Christ. No glory. No certainty. No satisfaction. But that old man, that flesh, it wants so badly to have, have, have. Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied (Proverbs 27:20). This immediately and necessarily leads straight to sin (James 1:14-15).

That is why Jesus was so stern and absolute in His commandment to forsake everthing. He left no conditions on this. He gave no room for consideration. He permitted no time for contemplation. It is a transaction that every disciple must make (and continually make) in order to be free.

Free from what?

Only you know the weight of your own sin baggage. What disappointments do you carry? What do you continue to hope will get better next time? Who let you down, and you're just trying to forget about it?

You can forsake it all and be free. Right now.

That's the purpose of this blog. To share God's truth with you. Awake to righteousness and sin not (I Corinthians 15:34). This is what God requires of you and all that Jesus has given to you. It is your responsibility to transact upon your own will. He will not do it for you. You cannot wish it. You cannot pray about it. You must do it. Immediately you do, God will move all heaven and earth to make your path wide and your steps large and your eyes wide to see and ears open to hear all the glorious truth of this great freedom. You will be free indeed.

And there is much more after this. Get hold of this truth and live it before God daily. You will begin to understand and experience all God means by sanctification (I Thessalonians 4:1-7).

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