Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Christmas Legacy

.... In our modern understanding of Christmas, the birth of Jesus was a touching event with presents in the night and the shepherd’s secret knowledge of something wonderful. But from another direction the hunt for His life was on; for ultimately, God had sent Him into the world for this very purpose:

.... "Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name."
(John 12:27-28 - 30 A.D.)
.... Jesus was born through a virgin by the Spirit of God, making Him both the Son of God and the Son of Man, and this put Him in a completely unique position. Being fully human, He could be tempted in every way, just as we are; yet being fully Divine as well, He was able to overcome every temptation He faced (Isaiah 42:1,21; 53:9; Hebrews 4:15). In this way He passed every test that mankind has ever failed, which made Him our champion in a very special way.
.... When we yield to temptation, sin follows, and the wages of our sin is death (Ezekiel 18:4; Romans 6:23). But in all of His life Jesus never sinned -- yet He died anyway, suffering the brutal death of the cross as the prophets foretold of Him (Psalm 22:16; Zechariah 12:10). Therefore, in giving His life, Jesus paid a price He did not owe. This allows Him to pay the price for others, who could not pay; He became our substitute, to redeem or ransom us from our own sins by giving His life in our place. Thus He became a spotless, pure sacrifice, well pleasing to the Lord, in fulfillment of the Old Testament sacrificial typology:

.... "Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities."
(Isaiah 53:10-11 - 712 B.C.)
.... But the same passage issues a challenge to us all: "Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?" (Isaiah 53:1). For God requires each of us to believe the testimony He has given of His Son, and to put our trust in Him (Deuteronomy 18:18-19).
.... After Jesus died, He rose again on the third day as the prophets foretold of Him. Through His death He paid the price for our sins, and through His resurrection He brought newness of life that He would share with all those who would believe in Him:

.... "I have set the LORD always before Me; because He is at My right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore My heart is glad, and My glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave My soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show Me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
(Psalm 16:8-11 - 1014 B.C.)
.... His followers became witnesses that these prophecies were fulfilled, and they left us records of the life they shared with Him, His death and His resurrection, and what it all means to us. And those records have survived to this day. If you would like to read them, they may be found in the book called The New Testament.
.... To respond to the Lord's great love for you and receive forgiveness of your sins, and to begin a new life with the Him today, you must express to God that you believe in His Son Jesus and that you have decided to place your complete trust in Him. You must also confess your sins to Him, and repent of them. Below is a suggested prayer that includes the basic information you will need to talk about. All you need do is discuss it with Him honestly:

.... God, I believe that Jesus came from You, and that You sent Him into the world. I believe You gave Him Your words, and that He spoke to us all that You commanded Him. I believe You have given all things into His hand; and I humble myself, confess Jesus as my Lord, and surrender my life to You according to Your purpose. I am putting my trust in You.
.... I believe that Jesus gave Himself for my sins, and I believe in my heart that You have raised Him from the dead, just as the prophets foretold of Him. I confess my sins to You, and my need for You; I repent of my sins, and I ask for Your forgiveness through Jesus, that I may receive the new life that You have given through Him.
.... And I thank You for Your love, which You have shown us in giving us Your only Son. Teach me and help me understand Your words so I can always please You, and help me become more like Jesus as I learn.
.... I am eager to hear from You and to know You better. In Jesus’ name I pray ... Amen.