It’s Christmas Eve! Merry Christmas, Everyone!
“…for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost”
I love this verse. It sums up the mission of Jesus so perfectly. This is part of the story of Zacchaeus (short version: a sellout cheat who found grace from Jesus and who was so changed by his faith that he promised to pay back those he cheated). Zacchaeus was from a group of Jewish citizens that were considered irredeemable by the religious elites. He was a tax-collector which was often considered a step below prostitutes, pigs, and Gentiles in social ranking and worthiness to come into God’s presence. Jesus came to save the worst of the worst and all the rest, too!
Jesus was born because we’re all irredeemable without His sacrifice. But because of His sacrifice, nobody is beyond redemption. Christ came to save the best of the best and the worst of the worst. Skin color, IQ, socio-economic class, gender, nationality… it doesn’t matter who you are because we’re all human and all born into sin. This was the reason for the first Advent.
He Was In The World…
He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Jesus first came to those that He called His own. God chose the Jewish people to foster the Messiah. But only a remnant accepted His testimony. But that was never going to be the whole story. The Jewish people were to testify of the Light coming into the world to all peoples, and indeed those who believed did just that. Here we are twenty centuries later, and the promise still stands. The circumstance of a person’s birth does not determine if they are worthy to hear the gospel, because all need to hear it.
This is the gospel: that Jesus (who is God and co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit) was born of Mary, a virgin, and lived a perfect, sinless life. He proclaimed the good news of eternal life by trust and allegiance to Himself alone. He was crucified and tortured to death as an atonement for sin. He was buried, then resurrected on the third day. He presented Himself bodily to his followers, then returned to Heaven where He sat down at the right hand of God having satisfied all the demands for atonement and making salvation and eternal life available for all who believe in His name.
To believe in Him is to confess and abandon allegiance to ourselves and our sins and to trust the testimony of His word. To believe in Him is to accept that Jesus of Nazareth is God (His essence) and the Son of God (His position). To believe in Him is to trust that He alone is the path of salvation and reconciliation with God. To believe in Him is to submit to His authority and act in His authority alone.
To believe in Him is to follow Him.
The Birth of Real Faith
Here’s the one thing you don’t have to do to believe in Him: understand it all. You don’t have to have all the answers or have your life in order to follow Jesus. You’re allowed to say “I don’t know” about all of life’s questions. Real faith says: “I don’t understand, but I believe you are trustworthy.” Real faith believes there is a real Person at the center of all of this. Real faith is first born when we believe in the Person of the Promise, Jesus.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
This is the fourth post in the Advent 2014 series. To read the previous post “Love,” click here.