Monday, December 10, 2012

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us."  (John 14a)

Each Christmas, for the last 5 years, I have pondered the same thought ... Christ's sacrifice was not reserved for the cross.  His sacrifice for us is written all over the Christmas story.

Jesus was. Always has been. Always will be.

"All things were created by Him and for Him" (Colossians 1:16b).
It is Jesus who created time. He created the beginning and is in charge of the end. Yet He, who never  experienced a boundary or a constraint, stepped into His creation of time and became subject to a beginning. He had a birth and He would have a death - and He did it all for us. Yes, Jesus would experience death ... His enemy. He would experience death and reveal to us that not even death could separate us from the love of God that is found in Him. But, back to the Christmas story, Jesus also experienced a birth and that means so much more than a nativity scene with a cute little baby sleeping in a manger with the adoring gaze of Mary, Joseph and shepherds.

Jesus would submit Himself to limitations for the first time. He would need time to sleep and need time to accomplish all that He came to do. For the first time ever, His eyes would close. Jesus is Lord of all, yet submitted to His creation of time.

Jesus never experienced a boundary. His permanent residence extends beyond any confines. He always existed in total freedom. The book of Genesis gives us details of the creation of this space where we live. Jesus did the unimaginable when He stepped into this space and into the womb of a woman. He became constrained by boundaries for the first time.  To go from total freedom to the tight confines of a womb, not to mention the limitations Jesus would experience for the rest of his life on this earth, is more than I can comprehend.

Jesus, who had not one single need, became a man with needs ... needs for food and drink, needs for instructions from His Father, needs for strength. Again, what a sacrifice! Can you grasp what it would be like to go from never having a need to living in a perpetual state of needs?

And on my list, is my "need" to deny temptation - temptation to idolatry, temptation to compromise and take the easier route, temptation to ... Jesus had never experienced those kinds of things. He IS God! Yet, he stepped into this world as a man and went through the same trials we experience. And we cannot fool ourselves and think that because He was God, it was easy to say no. He was also fully man and suffered through temptation. The only difference is He was totally obedient to His Father and said "no."

Before being born, Jesus never had to choose between good and evil. He is absolute in His character of goodness. Yet He agreed to step into a world filled with choices. And in that process, He revealed how we too could overcome ... through quiet times with His Father, through prayer, through commitment, love and obedience to God, the Father.

And Jesus, who was rich, became poor. He who owns "the cattle on a thousand hills", stepped into a life of poverty. He would be born in the poorest of conditions.  He was born in a stinking barnyard because no one would make room for Him. And He would live His ministry without a place to lay His head. All for us! He did it all for the joy set before Him.

Sacrifice at the cross! Yes, without a doubt.

Sacrifice at His conception! Oh, yes.

Jesus was born into a community of indifference. After all He sacrificed for us, how can this be a choice for us?

Joy, unspeakable joy, born in a manger. For us.

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