Christ Comes to Us to be Love

A  Christmas   Poem

Cloistered within the confines
of Mary’s womb,
Light was entombed in darkness.

Bound within that frame
of fetal flesh,
finiteness cloaks the infinite.

What manner of love is this
that begets the impossible,
and confounds our imagination?

What Sovereign fierce love this
to send an only son,
made helpless in the hands
of his own creation?

The power of such love
is found in weakness,
for it was not the strength of nails
that held him to the cross,
love, it was, that held him there.

~Pastor Jack Matheis

Christ Comes to Us to Receive Worship

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.  On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Matthew 2:1-2, 11

Jesus is born! God’s grace in human form. God’s love gift to us.

“We’re on pilgrimage to worship him.” the wise men explain to Herod.

“Overcome, they knelt and worshiped him… and presented gifts…”

After a long hard journey, the object of their travels deserved their worship. There was no other possible response. They were overcome. They knelt before him. They worshiped him. They gave him gifts.

So many questions arise in my mind about these wise men. What prophesy told them to follow the star? How did they know it was the King of the Jews? Were they fueled by anticipation of what kind of king they would find? Were they really ‘kings’ with an entourage? Were they surprised the king wasn’t in Herod’s palace? And those gifts, so unusual, so impractical but then they did expect the baby was going to be found in a King’s palace.

Were they surprised to find their King in a stable? The King of Kings! The King Incarnate. I think they were because they were overcome, knelt and worshiped him.

Let us be so awestruck by our baby King this Christmas.

O come let us adore Him!

Christ the Lord!
~Nancy Matheis

Christ Comes to Us to Bring God’s Glory

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
John 1:14
In the old testament, when God revealed himself to people to speak to them, far and away, the most common response was fear. Many view angels today as a cute little cherubs, or golden-haired girly-men. However scripture shows us over and over angels declaring to people, “Fear not!” Obviously their glory was terrifying.
When God revealed himself to the people of Israel to give them the law, the people were afraid and demanded that Moses go up and speak to God for them.
What becomes clear from reading the old testament is that for humans encountering God’s glory didn’t arouse fluffy feelings, but dread and terror.
 Jesus changed all that. He condescended to our level, so that we could know him intimately. He sat and walked and ate for three years with 12 ordinary men and made the glory of the father know to us. He did away with the horror of God’s glory by taking the wrath that we deserve and defeating death.
Jesus came to take our fear and our death and usher us into relationship with him and his Father.
As the fictitious demon in C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters describes to another demon:
“What is blinding, suffocating fire to you, is now cool light to him, is clarity itself, and wears the form of a Man.”
~ Jim Randall

Christ Comes to Us to Bring Us Good News

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
– Luke 4:18

“The truth hurts.” A trite and overused statement; yet difficult to deny. What physician or counselor would deny that a client’s best chance of recovery or restoration is connected to their ability to recognize their malady?

Jesus came with good news and bad news. The narrative of his ministry draws a strong distinction between those who say the truth in the bad news (“You are blind, you are sick, you need healing.”), and those who denied the bad news and found the successive part (“I will restore you, I will free you.”) of his message offensive.

Gospel means, “news that brings joy.” Jesus came to declare truth to us, the truth of why he had come: for our rescue and salvation, that we might be delivered from sin into fellowship with God.

The news that brings joy—this gospel—is a stumbling block. For what good is salvation if you do not need a savior? To know Christ, to know why he came, we have to accept the offense of the gospel, the ultimate delivery of good and bad news bundled together.

“The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” – Tim Keller

~Breanna Randall

Christ Comes to Us to Be Our High Priest

“For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.  Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Hebrews 2: 17-18

Priest: one who represents the people to God.  Often assumed to be a “better” person, held on a pedestal,  unapproachable, aloof.  Only later do we find they too, are sinners, broken , fallible, sometimes cold, hard, and insensitive.

Scripture tells us that Jesus IS our High Priest.  No assumptions here.  As God, Jesus is perfectly  Holy and Righteous, and able to represent His people to God the Father  face to face.

However, the God / Man Jesus came to earth as a helpless human baby.  Like us He lived and walked a human life.  He endured hunger (Lk 4:2), tiredness (Mt 8:24),  thirst (Jn 19:28), grief (Jn11:35), rejection (Jn 6:60), persecution (Mt 2:13), both mental and physical abuse (Jn 19:1-3),and temptation (Lk 4:1-13 & Heb 4:15) to become “like us in every way”, yet, without sin (Heb 4:15).

As our sinless High Priest, Jesus represents us before God, with tender love, care and understanding.   As God, HE Knows exactly how to approach His Father as our representative.  As one who has “been there”, HE Knows exactly what we need:  Forgiveness,  increased faith, healing, comfort, acceptance, understanding, boldness, insight and trust.

Trust in Him! and in the promises He has made:  “It is finished!” (Jn 19:30).  We have access to God directly through our Great High Priest, Jesus, who is EMMANUEL: God with us!
~Pam Herbert

Christ Comes to Us to Bring Us Peace

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!  I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

By coming to earth and paying for our sins, Jesus made peace between us and God.  Peace with God also makes possible peace within ourselves and with others.

Imagine believing we had to earn our way into heaven. We would rush around frantically working at the hopeless task of doing enough good works to fit ourselves for the kingdom, always with a gnawing anxiety in the back of or minds, “Am I good enough?” “Will I make it?”  Sins might leave us trembling in fear of judgment for the rest of our lives, and death would be the frightening deadline at which we are out of time to amass goodness.

We are not left to ourselves, though.

“Comfort, comfort ye my people saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry onto her that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned. For she hath received of the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.”

Our comfort and our peace are in  knowing our sins our covered for us, that we have a pardoning God.   “It is finished” –finished anxiously trying to wash away our sins ourselves.

”Though  your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

“Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let  him turn to the LORD, and he will have  mercy on him,  and to our God, for he will freely pardon.”

Of  course we still have trouble in the world, but His peace is shown to be heavenly, in that unlike the world’s transient peace, His peace lasts even through trouble.

I remember reading a story about a king who offered  a prize for whoever could paint the best picture of peace.  Many very peaceful looking sunsets and the like where submitted, but the painting  he chose surprised many.   At first glance it just looked like a storm in a forest.  Amid the wind and rain, though, a mother bird calmly sat on her nest in the crevice of a rock, safe.

While in the world we must still fight evil, but with the assurance the battle is won. Through all our trouble and sadness, when we fail miserably, and when we don’t know how things could turn out well, we have the peace of knowing our God, who knows what he is doing, is in control.  All sorrow will pass away and we will spend eternity with our Savior.

~Greta Suchy

Christ Comes to Us to Bring Us Great Joy

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. For behold I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”
Luke 2:10

These shepherds certainly had good cause to be afraid! Think of the terror put on those who witnessed even the smallest part of God’s heavenly power and majesty.

But now we need not be afraid of the splendor of God’s holiness, his glory was now among us, soon to live inside us!
We need not to feel like an outsider because we are Gentiles, because we are sinners.

This good news is given to ALL the people!
God chose to announce his greatest gift to the lowly shepherds, and is announcing it to us, still a lowly people, to this day.
Christ gives us nothing to fear, and everything to be joyful about.

How could we not be joyful?
The curtain is torn, the angels sing to the shepherds, for the King is among us with salvation in his hands!
~Brandon Dieleman

Christ Comes to Us as a Second Adam

“Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.

But the gift is not like the trespass.  For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!  Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.  For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.”
Romans 5:14 – 17

Here in a few verses of his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul lays before us the whole sweep of history.  In the first Adam, at the dawn of human history, we fell into our deadly condition.  This condition of sin, condemnation, and death plagues us at every turn.  As a river cannot rise above its source, so we, coursing through history from our fallen father, plunge only deeper into misery.  Ah, but the first Adam is not the last word.  There is, and is come, another Word, the second, greater, and final Adam.  This new Adam, like the first, comes into the world as the workmanship of God, flesh from dust, enlivened by the Spirit of God.  He is truly one of us.  Yet he does not enter life at the pinnacle of human existence, into a perfect garden.  He enters near the nadir of our failure, into the fullness of our misery, and as a helpless babe.  Not for one brief moment in the corner of the garden, but the entirety of his life was his probation, the cruel tree always in view, death a certainty from the outset.  Indeed, his death was his Father’s design, as well as the inescapable outcome of his identification with us, his lost brothers and deliberately lethal enemies.

Irenaeus, an early Church father, summed up this stupendous scriptural theme in the concept known to us as “recapitulation”.  Jesus Christ, the second and greater Adam, enters into the place of the first Adam, and relives his probation for our sake.  Facing temptations and challenges infinitely greater than the first Adam, he is fully obedient to the Father, yet he, born for our sake, is put to death by us for that obedience.  But thanks be to God, it is at this very point that the mystery of Godliness stands the mystery of evil on its head.  The death of our new Adam yields life by the power of his Spirit for him and for us, to the farthest reaches and depths of the created realm, far as the curse is found and beyond.

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.  And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to brings all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.”  Ephesians 1:7 – 10.
~Dan Gibson

Christ Comes to Us to Give His Life as a Ransom for Many

“EVEN the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Mark 10:45

In exploring this Advent verse, we start by getting some context and, looking back a few verses, we find the account of Jesus telling His disciples how He will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes and how He will be condemned to death, delivered to the Gentiles, mocked, spit upon, scourged, killed, and then rise from the dead.

What do His wondrous disciples do with that information?

Two of them ask for executive positions and then the rest of them get into a hissy fit over their positional status.

As I thought that situation over, what strangely came to my mind was the picture of a woman telling her husband that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer that morning and all he says is, “What’s for supper?”

The point Jesus was making to His disciples here (and to us) is PURPOSE in life. That is to SERVE, not BE served.

That’s what Christmas is all about and, if EVEN the Son of Man, the Messiah, the GOD-man, Jesus the Christ, did not come to BE served but to serve others, then surely that is OUR calling and purpose in life.

The text uses a special Greek word here for “to be served.” It’s Diakoneo and literally means “to serve, wait upon, with emphasis on the work to be done and NOT the relationship between lord and servant,” a service that “brings advantage to others.”

Oh, and there’s one more requirement. “Give your LIFE as a ransom for many.”

This is a concept that only those in the military fully understand.

Husbands are called upon to lay down their lives for their wives and there are other instances in Scripture which talks about laying down one’s life for others.

Interestingly, the Greek word here for ransom speaks of “a price paid for redeeming captives, loosing them from their bonds and setting them at liberty.”

Hopefully, we are not ever called upon to give up our lives in death but, that being the case, we SHOULD be willing at the very least to use our lives to serve others and count others as more important than ourselves. What better gift could you receive? What better gift could you give?

~Lee Mielke

Christ Comes to Us to Give Us Eternal Life

“I am the living bread that came from heaven.  If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.  This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
John 6:51

Jesus is explaining to the crowd that He is the living bread, greater than the manna, which Moses provided.  The manna will only sustain life for one day.   Jesus offers bread not just to sustain life for a day…… but for all eternity.

As we come to the communion table, we remember: why Christ came and why he died.  We think of our sin.  We think of Jesus being broken on the cross to satisfy God’s wrath against sin.  We have grateful hearts that because of His life and death, we have forgiveness and relationship with God.

But,   do we think about eternal life?    That time to come when we will LIVE  with our God,  have face to face access,  worship in spirit and truth.  That time when we  will live in His realized kingdom where there is NO pain, NO sorrow, NO tears, NO darkness, NO sin, NO fear, NO DEATH!  The Eternal Kingdom of GOD where there is Truth and Light and Joy and Love and Peace and God Himself,   ETERNALLY !!!

Like many in scripture, we wonder:  “what must I do to gain this eternal life?”
Jesus answers, “Believe in me, the Son of God.” (John 3:16-21)

As you “eat this bread”  Believe Him.  Believe in Him, Jesus Christ, Son of God!  Remember His promise  and this glimpse of eternal life.
~Pam Herbert