Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Reason for the Season: Us

No doubt you’ve heard all the little sayings and jingles such as “Christmas begins with Christ”, “Happy Birthday, Jesus”, or “Jesus is the reason for the season”. And though it’s true that Jesus should be at the very center of this holiday, may I propose another reason for this season? Us. You and me. All of mankind…

Now you’re asking: “How could she say such a thing?” Let me explain…

1. The Reason Jesus was Born

When God created man He created them perfect and sinless but with a free will to choose whether they would remain unstained by sin. Man chose to disobey, thus causing them to be forever cursed by a disease called sin. Sin cannot go unpunished; it must be paid for somehow. The Bible says that “the wages (payment) of sin is death”. Something or someone had to die to pay that price. Back in Bible times the priest’s would offer sacrifices (the something that could pay for our sins) upon an altar to pay for the sins of mankind, but the bloodshed of animals could not forever pay the debt we had accumulated. At the beginning when man first fell, God promised them that a Savior would come in the future to take away the sins of the world. That Savior (the Someone that would forever pay for our sins) was Jesus.

We’ve all heard the story of how He was announced to the shepherds by angels, was led to by a star for the wise men, was born in an animal stable, wrapped in swaddling clothes, laid in a manger, and grew up in Nazareth. People think the story just ends there, but it doesn’t. His whole reason for coming was to be the Savior of the world. He left His throne in Heaven to come live a perfect, sinless life among His creation so that one day – the one day that He came to earth for – He would die on the cross and become our perfect sacrifice so that we might believe on Him and have everlasting life. He came for us.

2. The Reason Jesus Died

As Jesus grew up on this earth the Son of a carpenter, He never disobeyed or had a bad attitude. He was perfect. He baffled the scribes and Pharisees with His wisdom as He sat in the temple with them talking and teaching. As time went by He began to perform miracles and teach thousands on a mountain side. He began to show forth who He really was and identified Himself with His true Father (God). The scribes and Pharisees began to hate Him and began plotting ways that they might be rid of Him. Their plans all fell short until Judas (a disciple of Jesus) betrayed Him and sold Him out for the price of a slave (30 pieces of silver). Judas led the plotting crowd to the garden where Jesus was praying, and with the kiss of betrayal that sealed Jesus’ death, turned Him over to the angry mob. After a mock trial, several beatings, and a long walk up a dirt road with the weight of the very cross He would hang upon on his back – He was crucified. The Bible says that He went “as a sheep to the slaughter; as a lamb before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth”. He never complained, never called ten-thousand angels to His rescue, and never came down from the cross even though He was dared to. He was on a mission. This was the day He had lived 33 years to accomplish. This was His very reason for coming: to die as a perfect, sinless sacrifice. The Only Begotten of the Father hung in agony and shame before the world for the world. And once He knew that He had accomplished His whole reason for coming He cried out one last cry – three words that would forever seal the work of salvation: “It is finished!” The work had been completed. He died for us.

3. The Reason Jesus Arose from the Grave

So far the story seems like it ended in utter hopelessness, but it didn't end there! Just three days later He arose from the grave, conquering death’s sting and crushing Satan’s plan. The Victorious Savior became our Risen Lord!

As Mary (His mother), and Mary Magdalene (a harlot that had been forgiven of her sins by Jesus) and Salome (a follower of Jesus) walked towards the grave to anoint it with precious oils and spices (A Jewish custom for a period of time directly following a death). But as they approached the tomb where He had been laid they were shocked by the sight of the stone door rolled away and an angel sitting upon it. The angel told them not to fear and that Jesus had risen from the grave just as He had promised He would do. Mary and Salome believed the angel and ran back to tell the Disciples what they had been told, but Mary Magdalene doubted. She stayed at the grave site and walked around in the garden until she was approached by a man whom she thought was the gardener. She begged Him to tell her who had stolen the body of Jesus and where they had taken it so that she could find it and bring it back. The “gardener” she was speaking to was Jesus, and when He spoke her name she knew it was Him. She was the first to witness His resurrected body.

But why did He rise from the grave? Why did He come back to life? The answer is simple. Had Jesus stayed in the grave, death would have won the battle and defeated Christ. But to prove to all mankind that He was indeed who He claimed to be, Jesus rose from the grave proving that He is all-powerful, controlling even death itself. He arose for us. When He arose from the grave He gave us hope that death could not control us; we also could defeat death. For through Christ and the gift of salvation that He bought for us on Calvary by dying on the cross we can have eternal life and not know death. By this death I’m talking about our Spiritual death, not our physical death. We are all human, and as such we have all been appointed a time when we’ll die physically, but it doesn’t end there. We were born with a spirit, and when we die are spirit keeps on living, but since our earthly body is dead, it cannot live there any longer. It is then that it inhabits one of two places: Heaven or Hell. Hell is the spiritual death (separation from God for all eternity), where the spirit is forever tormented in never-dying flames, where the worm dies not, and where there is no hope, no parties, and no friends. But you have an alternative. The other option is Heaven – a place where the gates are made of pearl, the walls are made of jasper, the streets are made of gold so pure you can see through them, the light is Jesus Himself, the river is made of crystal clear water, the trees grow every different kind of fruit imaginable, there’s no sickness or pain, there no lying, cheating, or stealing, there’s no heartaches, cares, or sorrows, and there’s no death. Heaven is indescribable and inconceivable to the human mind, but it’s real.

This is why Jesus was born; this is why Jesus died; this is why He arose again – so that we could go to Heaven someday. You see, we were the reason He came. It was all because of us. I’m so thankful that He loved me enough to be my Savior, and He loves you just the same.

© Heather Vires 2006, all rights reserved.

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(I John 1:4)

God is so good! ALL the time, my God is good!

~ Heather ♥

I am Elizabeth Bennet of Pride & Prejudice! I am intelligent, witty, and tremendously attractive. I have a good head on my shoulders, and oftentimes find myself the lone beacon of reason in a sea of ridiculousness. I take great pleasure in many things. I am proficient in nearly all of them, though I will never own it. Lest I seem too perfect, I have a tendency toward prejudgement that serves me very ill indeed.

I am Elizabeth Bennet!