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By Barb Kugle
Special to The PREVIEW
Jesus is so much more than a “reason for the season.”
Considering the scope and breadth of who Jesus Christ really is, this tired saying is nearly meaningless. It should have never come to this — a holiday of self-indulgence. Christmas is more than the date of Christ’s birth on the calendar, the passing of one age to the next, but it is the most amazing story of God’s love and redemption for mankind through the birth and sacrifice of His only begotten Son.
Surely the cry of God’s heart this season is that His creation would honor His Son with humility and sincere hearts. To be honest, I don’t even know what that looks like, never having been brought up with that mindset. My house will probably continue our usual traditions—unless the Lord Himself interrupts it with a good shaking.
So, who is this Jesus, and why is His birth celebrated?
His Diety — Unlike his contemporaries, John, the apostle and author of the fourth gospel, blows past the account of Christ’s birth to answer the above question, first with evidence of Jesus’ deity. Since His birth, the world system, ruled by Satan, has attempted to strip Jesus of His unique relationship with God the Father. If Jesus were not God, and, at the same time, the Son of God, Christmas would, indeed, be no more than an empty holiday. John’s purpose for writing his account is stated at the conclusion of his book, John 20:31: “so that you may say, ‘O believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,’ and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Jesus the Word — In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1) The Word is identified in John 1:14. As a young man, John witnessed the beginning of Christ’s ministry on earth. And then in his old age, he “saw” Jesus in a vision, at the conclusion of earth history, again identified as the Word of God. “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True … and his name is the Word of God.” (Revelation 19:11-13)
Jesus the Self-existent One — He was in the beginning with God. (vs. 2) Before the little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head in a manger, He existed in eternity, before time began or before anything else existed. As an uncreated being, He, therefore, had no beginning at all. Not only so, but while He was God in the beginning, He was, at the same time, with God, and, according to Genesis 1:1-2, with the Holy Spirit. All three persons existed before the creation of the universe at the same time, yet they are one. One plus one, plus one, equals one, and thus equals the formula for the Trinity.
Jesus the Creator — Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. (John1:3) The Son of God created all that exists, both the physical universe and all the spiritual beings. Why is there something rather than nothing? This is the great question of philosophy. From a Biblical worldview, the answer is simple — God. “But, in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” (Hebrews 1:2) Jesus, the Word, is God’s spokesman and agent of creation.
Jesus, the Life — “In him was life.” (John 1:4a). Nobody gave Jesus life. He is life and the giver of life, and He sustains it. In Him is biological life, which dies, and spiritual life, which is eternal. In Him we live and breathe and have our being. “That whoever believes in Him will have eternal life.” (John 3:15)
Jesus, the Light — “And that life was the light of men.” (John1:4) “The true light, which enlightens everyone …” (John1:9). Life and light are synonymous. The source of life is our source of light. Through Him, God is revealed so that we might know Him and have life, and have it more abundantly. Life without Jesus is as empty and void as the earth was before He created life on it. He came into the world, to shine His light in it. Light in a dark room dispels the darkness, yet no darkness is too dark to overcome the light. The apostle John says in John 1:5 that Light came into the world, but the world did not recognize Him. How very, very sad.
Jesus, the Man — No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known (John 1:18). God is invisible. But, Jesus, who is both God and man, was seen and will be seen again. The infant child was not half man and half God, but fully both. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible…For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him …” (Colossians 1:15-19)
Jesus, the Savior — “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John: 1:12,13) Praise God for Christmas’ greatest gift. If you don’t know Jesus as Savior, I pray that you will read all of John’s gospel account and get to know the Son of God who graciously forgives you for all your sins, and who accepts and loves you unconditionally.
Jesus, the Lamb of God — “Behold, the Lamb of God, whotakes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). John the Baptist — not to be confused with John, the apostle — proclaimed these words when he saw Jesus coming toward him to be baptized. The Baptizer may have been thinking of the Passover lamb or the writing’s of Isaiah, whose book predicted Messiah’s birth and death on the cross seven hundred years before Jesus was born. “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter …”(Isaiah 53:7)
Jesus, the Comforter — I, like you, am trying to make sense of the unspeakable evil perpetrated against Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which took many innocent lives this last Friday. I can almost see the tears on Jesus’ face. His grief is real and so much deeper than we can comprehend or imagine. In one fell swoop, all the trappings of Christmas were swept away for the families of these precious little ones. I witnessed the true spirit of Christmas on TV, when one of the fathers, who had lost his precious daughter in this senseless act, testified that his little girl would have been one of the first to forgive her murderer, and this father took comfort in knowing that his child is now safe in Christ’s arms.
These are merely small glimpses of who Jesus is and the reason we celebrate His birth. I could write blogs on Jesus into eternity and never exhaust the subject. I hope and pray that the next time you see a nativity scene, it will cause you to pause and consider life’s perfect gift. What must it have been like for Mary and Joseph to hold the Son of God in their arms?
One of my favorite songs of the season, “Mary Did You Know,” by Mark Lowery, begins with, “Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?” When Mary held her little baby did she know that He had come to make her new; that when she kissed her little baby, she kissed the face of God; that the child she delivered would soon deliver her? The song concludes with this verse:
“Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding is the great I am.