This week my daughter has been sending me pictures of our sweet grandchildren doing all kinds of fun Christmas activities. Both are now in school at least part of the time (kindergarten and preschool), so these memories they are making are imprinting their hearts and minds with what it means to be “on Christmas break.” I have such good memories of Christmas, and I’m thankful that both our daughters are carrying on old traditions and creating new ones to give their children happy childhood experiences. They are also doing a wonderful job of making sure they know the real reason we celebrate Christmas, and who it’s all about!
There’s nothing quite like knowing your child (or grandchild) is safe, happy, loved, and cared for in the best of ways. Christmas is a reminder, though, of a young mother who was confronted very early on with the knowledge that her child would suffer greatly, and there was nothing she could do to stop the coming grief and pain that was this sweet, innocent child’s destiny.
So far, we’ve looked at three gifts Jesus gave us by coming into our world. Today’s gift should cause us to really think seriously and gratefully about Christmas.
Gift #1 – Jesus was born so that we could be born again.
Gift #2 – Jesus walked so that we could worship.
Gift #3 – Jesus spoke so that we could see.
Gift #4 – Jesus suffered so that we could stand.
When Mary learned that she was chosen to give birth to the Messiah, she didn’t hesitate to surrender her heart, soul, and body to what God asked her to do. She embraced this journey with joy. My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. … For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name (Luke 1:47,49). We can imagine the wonder and joy she and Joseph experienced at Jesus’ birth, instantly bonding with this tiny baby with a love too deep to describe, and a fierce protectiveness all parents have for their children, especially when they’re small.
Yet, just eight days after His birth, Mary hears the words no mother would ever want to hear, as Simeon took her child into his arms in the temple and proclaimed His future.
Luke 2:34-35 – And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed – and a sword will pierce even your own soul – to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.
It was always God’s plan that His Son would suffer so that the men and women He came to redeem would be able to stand before God.
2 Corinthians 5:21 – He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
There’s a picture going around on social media. On one side of is an image of Mary cradling the infant Jesus, just as mothers have cradled their babies since time began. On the other side, however, is Mary weeping, as she supports the bruised and bloody body of her son, just removed from the cross that took His life. Truly, a sword pierced her soul, as Jesus suffered on behalf of all who would come to believe.
Matthew 16:21 – From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.
Luke 24:25-27 – And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
Acts 3:18 – But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.
Hebrews 2:9-10 – But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.
Hebrews 13:12 – Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate.
Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross fulfilled the purpose for which He came. He paid the sin debt of the world. The barrier between God and men was taken out of the way, and when we put our faith in Him for the payment of our sins, we can enter into the presence of God, and stand before Him, holy, righteous, accepted, adopted, and redeemed.
Jesus suffered so that we could stand.
When Jesus left heaven, He knew His destiny. He would experience the love of a human mother and father, but from the moment He took His first breath on this earth, He was headed to the cross. He came intentionally, purposefully, to suffer for you and me.
Will you stand before God, clothed in the righteousness of the One who suffered for you? Or will you give account for your life on your own terms, and miss out on eternity with Jesus?
1 John 4:10 – This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
1 John 2:2 – He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.