Monday, December 19, 2011
SHEEP AND SHEPHERDS
When my boys were small, they each wanted a sheep for Christmas. How happy they were when they received their pregnant ewes which soon after birthed the cutest, cuddliest lambs you can imagine. Who can resist such a gift? Who can resist the best gift of all—Jesus, the Lamb of God and the Great Shepherd?
ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES by Sally Bair
Christmas and the Cross
Long before Christ was born in a manger, Isaiah prophesied His birth. “Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His Name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) You may have heard those words sung in Handel’s Messiah. Because of Isaiah’s prophecy-come-true, we can celebrate Christmas with joy and thanksgiving.
For centuries, God’s people looked for the coming of the Savior. When watchful shepherds heard angels herald the good news of Jesus’ coming, they were so jubilant they left their post to follow God’s star to the stable where He was born. Most residents of Judea looked for someone who would release them from captivity of the enemy—the harsh rulers of the land. Perhaps that hasn’t changed. Perhaps some of us also look to Jesus, our Savior, as the One who will “make things better for us.”
There’s more to Christmas than the birth of Jesus, however. For there can be no birth without death. The newly-budded flower, the salmon roe, the embryo in a woman’s womb all live for a God-given purpose and then die.
We can’t celebrate Jesus’ unique birth without celebrating the reason for which He came to earth—to die for our sins. Isaiah 53:4-5 states: “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows … He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”
The good news is that although Christmas eventually brought Good Friday, it didn’t end there. The crux of the Christian faith is not in Jesus’ death, but in His bodily resurrection. Without the resurrection, we would have no Christmas to celebrate, no way to be reconciled with God. “If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:17)
We can celebrate His wonderful and miraculous birth with great joy! We can happily exchange gifts with those we love. We can be inspired by the words in Scripture that tell of the Good News of Jesus’ birth, His death, and His resurrection.
Lord, as we celebrate Your birth, help us remember that Your death and resurrection fulfilled Your purpose for our lives. Help us to share the Good News of salvation this Christmas. In Jesus’ name, amen.