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(Part 81)



December 25, 2013

Today’s readings:
Isaiah 52:7-10
Psalm 98:1-6
Hebrews 1:1-6
John 1:1-18

Jesus has come. Jesus will come again.

Today we celebrate Christmas, the birth of our Lord Jesus. On that day God said, “You are my son; this day I have begotten you” (Heb 1:5). Thus “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (Jn 1:14a).

Today, on Jesus’ first coming, we also look to his second coming. We look forward to “the Lord’s return to Zion.” (Is 52:8d). Indeed, we are already “in these last days” (Heb 1:2a). We are in the final age. We are in the end times. And so it is important to see why Jesus came into the world in the first place.

We look to salvation history. We look to what God has done. First there was creation. God created everything, including humankind, to share His love and to live eternally with Him. We look at Jesus in the manger, and we see “a son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe” (Heb 1:2b). Jesus was there, not just from his birth, but from the birth of the universe. “He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.” (Jn 1:2-3a).

Now the enemy thwarted God’s plan and Eden was lost. But God’s intent does not change. And so He sent His very own Son into the world. And so second, there is redemption. Jesus went to the cross and “accomplished purification from sins” (Heb 1:3c). Darkness and death had descended upon the world, but “through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (Jn 1:4-5). The world was in misery, but “the Lord has comforted his people, has redeemed Jerusalem.” (Is 52:9b). The enemy had momentarily triumphed in Eden, but was crushed in Calvary. By Jesus’ death and resurrection, “his right hand and holy arm have won the victory.” (Ps 98:1b).

After Jesus’ resurrection and after appearing to his disciples for final instructions, his work was done and he went up to heaven. And so third, there is his ascension. Jesus “took his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Heb 1:3d).

What more needs to happen? If there was creation, redemption and ascension, then we, who according to the plan of God were created and who were redeemed, will also need to ascend. Jesus came down to earth so that we might go up to heaven. Jesus has already won salvation on the cross for us. We just need to accept. “But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name” (Jn 1:12). We accept Jesus as Savior and Lord. We BE.LI.EV.E! We will enter into eternal life.

How can people believe? They need to hear the good news of salvation in Jesus. How can they hear? His disciples need to proclaim this gospel. They need to do the work of evangelization. This work is so important. This work has to do with the very plan of God. Evangelizers do the very work of God and so they have a lofty status in the design of God. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the one bringing good news, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation, saying to Zion, ‘Your God is King!’” (Is 52:7). Wow! Would you not want to be counted among such beautiful heralds of the King?

John the Baptist was such a person. He proclaimed the coming of Jesus. “A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.” (Jn 1:6-7). John was sent from God, he testified to Jesus, he was used by God to bring people to belief in Jesus. We too are sent by God, we too are to witness to Jesus, we too are to be used by God in order to help bring people to faith in Jesus. John was to the first coming as we are to the second coming.

Jesus came for all. “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” (Jn 1:9). Salvation is for all. Our task is to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth. “All the ends of the earth can see the salvation of our God.” (Is 52:10b). Jesus was victorious on the cross. We share that victory. “All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.” (Ps 98:3b).

Creation, redemption, ascension. Christmas is not just about the birth of Jesus, but about all three. The coming of Jesus is not just an event for today, but has always been about God from the beginning to the end. Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. John, who was born ahead of Jesus, said, “he existed before me.” (Jn 1:15c). Indeed he was there before the world began. Because Jesus came, we have been redeemed, saved, graced. “From his fullness we have all received, grace in place or grace” (Jn 1:16). Now Jesus has already ascended into heaven. That is where we too are destined.

This day, looking on the babe in the manger, we have seen God who became man. Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus is our brother who restores us to the Father. Today we celebrate the coming of Jesus into the world, and we look forward to our going with him into heaven, where we will come face to face with God. “No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.” (Jn 1:18).

It is Christmas and so we rejoice. We looked forward with anticipation to this day of the year, and we now savor this first coming of Jesus. But we should also look forward with even greater anticipation to his second coming. That day will be one of indescribable joy.

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth;
break into song; sing praise.
Sing praise to the Lord with the lyre,
with the lyre and melodious song.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
shout with joy to the King, the Lord.
(Ps 98:4-6)

Merry Christmas to you all!

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