When you fully understand your need for rescue – when you understand that apart from someone saving you there is no chance of survival, the sign of your rescuer on the scene is the greatest joy you could imagine. Let’s consider how the manger rescue is our joy…
As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away.
Luke 23:26-27, 48
The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,
Acts 3:13-15, 19
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
When Jesus was crucified the people mourned him. We mourn his death on Good Friday still. And we mourn our own sin when we celebrate communion in our churches weekly or monthly. We mourn the injustice of religious leaders who handed him over to be crucified. We mourn the brutality of his punishment, his beating, and even the insult of having to carry his own cross.
We celebrate Jesus’ birth. We rejoice with the angels who proclaim his arrival and the glory of God shining upon the earth. The season of Christmas fills us with hope because a saviour was born to us. Great joy for all the people.
Jesus prayed that Father God would forgive those who handed him over and prosecuted him. They know not what they do. True. They were all playing roles in the plan of God’s redemption. I don’t understand how their guilt or innocence will be sorted out in eternity. God has that under control.
I am mourning that I am a co-conspirator with them. I know what I do. And inasmuch as I celebrate the joy of Christ’s birth and the hope Jesus brings, I mourn that I am reason he had to come. The need for a saviour is undeniably joined with the presence of sinful people who are separated from God.
The insult of Jesus carrying his own cross deepens when I realize that Jesus’ cross was not his. It is mine. It is yours. The cross be borne for me, for you. Jesus’ cross was borne for us, just as baby Jesus was born for us.
The shouts of the shepherds and the announcements of angels are a reminder of the sad truth that we need a saviour. Our hope is born out of God’s grace. God’s grace is his response to our wandering. It’s our reality.
We cannot get away from our truth, and this is not a downer message on Christmas. Rather, it is a sobering reflection which sets the stage for the deepest worship of God in this season. Here’s why:
When you fully understand your need for rescue – when you understand that apart from someone saving you there is no chance of survival, the sign of your rescuer on the scene is the greatest joy you could imagine.
That’s our Christmas posture. Our rescuer has arrived. Not to join our Christmas concert or party or to carve our turkey or drop off a gift bottle of wine.
Jesus has arrived to literally save our lives, and our lives need saving.
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”