Friday, December 22, 2017

Advent Week 3 Day 6

As we approach Christmas, it is the season that church has, historically, called Advent. I thought I would re-share some old thoughts about Christmas in this time. Hymn numbers are from the 2008 Baptist Hymnal (which the Apostle Paul would not have used, since he didn’t speak English), but it was the hymnal I had when I wrote this. Apart from Scripture quotes, the copyright on this completely mine.

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.” Hebrews 10:19–20 (NLT)

The last point about Jesus as our sacrifice is that He is the sacrifice without replacement. There is no substitute for Him to be found in heaven, on earth, or under the earth. Without holding to this truth, Christmas becomes less than just another day. It ends up as a colossal drain on your energy and a big mess at the mall for no good reason.

This idea bears both repeating and expanding: Jesus is either the sacrifice without replacement or Christmas, nay Christianity, is a complete waste. For Him to be without replacement, two things must be true: He must be without equal and we must be without options.

That we are without an option is made plain by Jesus Himself. He stated that He is “the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through” Him.[1] This leaves us only two choices: believe Him or not. If He cannot be trusted with telling us about God, than can we trust Him with anything else? Here is a man who claimed to also be God. His statements are recorded by people who allege that He was born of a virgin, that He raised the dead, that He fed thousands with snack lunches, and that He got up and out of a tomb after a Roman crucifixion.

Disbelief is the only option open to us. We cannot pass Him off as less than He claimed or as only partially what the Gospels tell us about Him. If He is not real in all He did, what is the value of any of it? The world sees many moralists and motivators. Why would we need one from a troubled Roman province of two thousand years ago? The choice is not Jesus among many options. The choice is Jesus or no Jesus.

The reason is that Jesus is without equal. He is called the “only begotten” or “one and only” Son of God by the Apostle John. There is no one who can claim equality with Him. None of the prophets of old ever claimed to fulfill the promises of God. John the Baptist quickly distanced himself from the high praise and even the angel at the end of Revelation points to God alone as worthy of worship.

Nothing can equal Jesus. Attempting to add our own merit to His sacrifice denies that His work remains enough. There is nothing to add, for the work is done. Out of gratitude, out of a heart set free to follow Him, we ought to do what He says, but it is not for our salvation that we do it. It is for His glory.

Nothing can equal Jesus. Attempting to add the worship of a good man or woman denies that His glory remains enough. There is nothing to add, for worship belongs to God alone. Out of gratitude, out of a heart filled with joy, we worship Him. Oftentimes we worship Him with others, we have those who guide and lead our worship, but they never stand equal to Him. They do not stand above us, but only slightly in front to serve as guides.

Nothing can equal Jesus. Attempting to add the paths that diverse from Him denies that He knew the whole truth. There is nothing to add, for His truth is all that there is. Out of gratitude, out of a heart cleared of darkness to see Him clearly, we know Him and His Word. We share His Word and His work with others. Men and women help us to see His truth clearly, but they cannot add to it.

The manger holds the only hope for mankind. The irreplaceable sacrifice without spot or blemish, freely given for the world is there. He may not seem like much. He may seem easily mislaid among the divisions of mankind and especially of those who claim Him as their own, but He is there. He may seem easily hidden behind other kings and counselors, priests and intimates, but He is there. May we seek Him with all of our heart this Christmas and throughout the days to come.

Scripture passage for the day: John 5:24 (NASB95)

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word,

and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life,

and does not come into judgment,

but has passed out of death into life.

Hymn for the day: Go Tell It on the Mountain #182

Prayer: O Lord my God, You are truly without parallel in this world. Nothing can truly equal You, yet my heart sometimes tries to replace You anyway. Help my unbelief, my struggle with this. Help my whole heart, the total of my will and emotions, to be locked in to worship and service of You and You alone. Further, mold my life to be the spark to draw others to Your light. In the precious name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

[1] John 14:6, modified to fit the 3rd person grammar of the sentence.

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