To most of us, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. However, an interesting thing revealed
by various polls is that one of the things currently in vogue is to devise a god, a religion and a Christ (or whatever) to our own liking.
The question Jesus put to the religious leaders of Israel is a good one for us to consider today.
"What do you think about the Christ, Whose son is He?" (Matthew 22:42)
Many years ago an anonymous author gave mankind the following thoughts to consider:
"He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in still another village, where he worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty. Then for three years he was an itinerant preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a house. He didn't go to college. He never visited a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where he was born, He did none of the things one usually associates with greatness. He had no credentials but himself. He was only thirty-three when the tide of public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth. When he was dead he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central
figure of the human race and the leader of mankind's progress. All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that One Solitary Life."
How do we account for the impact Jesus Christ made on the world? If we say brilliance, we have to admit that many exceedingly brilliant people have lived who made little or no impact. If we say environment, we have to say there were many Jewish boys who grew up in the same environment. We could suggest many reasons but we would be forced to the conclusion that there is no plausible human explanation for Jesus Christ or the influence He has had on the world.
We must consider other sources.
What Did The Prophecies Say?
"…Which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh." - Romans 1:2,3
In his book, "Evidence That Demands A Verdict", Josh McDowell identifies over 300 prophecies of Christ that were fulfilled in Jesus (pages 147-183). Some of these prophecies were that the Christ (Hebrew "Messiah"): Would be born the seed of a woman (Gen. 3:15); born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:l4); the lineage of Abraham (Gen. l2:23, 22:l8); Isaac (Genesis 2l:l2); Jacob (Numbers 24:l7); Judah (Gen. 49:l0);Micah 5:2); the family line of Jesse (Isaiah
11:1, 10); the house of David (2 Samuel 7:l1-l6; Jeremiah 23:5); in the City of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2); that He would be the eternal Son of God given to mankind (Isaiah 9:6, 7); and He would be called Immanuel which means "God with us" (Isaiah 7:l4).
Other prophecies spoke of His forerunner, John the Baptist (Isaiah 40:3); Christ's ministry of miracles (Isaiah 35:5, 6); His presentation to Israel (Zechariah 9:9); His rejection by Israel (Psalm ll8:22); His crucifixion (Psalm 22); His burial (Isaiah 53:9); His resurrection (Psalm l6:l0); His ascension (Psalm 68:l8a); His high priestly intercession at the right hand of God (Psalm ll0:l; Isaiah 53:l2); Isaiah 53 makes clear His death was a sacrifice for the sins of mankind.
Many details of these and other events too numerous to include were given in Old Testament prophecies. Without question, the prophecies tell us: that the Christ was the eternal Son Of God: Who entered the human family to reveal God to man, receive the punishment for man's sin on the cross, and rise again to be a living Savior to all those who receive Him by faith as their Savior.
What Did God Say?
We are informed in the New Testament that on two occasions God spoke from heaven during the life of Jesus. The first time was at His baptism. Over John's protests of unworthiness Jesus was baptized. "When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased." - Matthew 3:l6, l7.
Let it be noted that John's baptism and all other Jewish baptisms were symbolic of cleansing from the defilement of sin as a result of repentance. Jesus gave a new meaning to baptism because he had no sin for which He needed to repent or be cleansed. Jesus hereby made baptism a symbol of His death, burial and resurrection…the means by which He would provide salvation to all who sincerely put their faith in Him as their Savior (See Romans 6:1-11).
The second time God spoke was on the mount of transfiguration. Peter, James and John were with Jesus but they were asleep. When they awoke they saw the glory of Christ's deity radiating through His body and His garments. They also saw Jesus speaking with Moses and Elijah. The topic of their conversation was His coming death at Jerusalem (Luke 9:31). Peter suggested that Jesus let the disciples build three tabernacles in that place…one for Jesus, One for Moses and one for Elijah. A cloud formed and enveloped them "And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, hear Him." (Luke 9:35) Again, the emphasis was on God's Son in human flesh dying as a sacrifice for sin on God's chosen mountain, Mt. Moriah. (See Genesis 22:8, 14).
What Did Jesus Say?
On several occasions Jesus stated why He came into the world:
Jesus Came To Fulfill God's Law
"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill." Matthew 5:17
In the first place Jesus could not abolish God's moral law because God's moral law is the perfect expression of the perfectly righteous God. Jesus did not come to get people back into a relationship with God and in to heaven by doing away with the law. He came so that the full penalty of the law might be carried out…not on the ones who have broken the law, but upon Him as the Substitute for the law breakers.
Jesus Came To Give His Life A Ransom For Many
"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many." Mark 10:45.
By paying the redemption price for sins the justice of God was fully satisfied and the only thing left separating God from sinful man was their willingness to receive the Savior and the sacrifice He offered for their sin.
Jesus Came To Call Sinners To Repentance
"Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." Luke 5:31,32
I have been impressed that things haven't changed much from Jesus' day. Much of our attitude and actions as Christians sends the signal, "If you will clean yourself up enough to where you are reasonably acceptable then I'll introduce you to Jesus Who will save you." How different from Jesus Who was known as "a friend of
tax collectors, publicans and sinners." (Matthew 11:19). The most severe accusation brought against Him was "This man receives sinners and eats with them."
Luke 15:2. Jesus looked upon sinners as being in bondage and desperately in need of being set free.
He clearly stated why He was a friend of tax collectors and sinners, "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." Luke 19:10.
What Did The Authors Of Our New Testament Say?
Peter - "knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible (perishable) things like silver or gold…but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." 1 Peter 1:18, 19. "and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed."
1 Peter 2:24. NASB
John - "And you know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin." 1 John 3:5 NASB
John the Baptist introduced Jesus with the words, "Behold!,
The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!" John 1:29.
And how did Jesus take away sins?
John writes, "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
1 John 4:10. That big word propitiation speaks of the Day of Atonement in Israel when the high priest laid his hands on the head of the sacrificial goat and symbolically transferred the sins of the people to the goat. The blood of the goat was shed and the carcass burned on the altar of brass. The blood was presented to God as evidence that the death penalty for sin had been carried out. The high priest then laid his hands on the head of the scapegoat in like manner and the scapegoat was led so far away from the people it could never find its way back to them again. This pictured what Jesus has done by His sacrifice on the cross. He received the penalty for our sin for us and has taken our sin away. Salvation is no longer a sin question but the "Son question." Jesus make that clear when He said,
"He who believes in Him (Jesus) is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." John 3:18.
Paul - Paul summed up the thrust of his epistles when he wrote, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…" 1st Timothy
Yes, Christ came to save sinners. The question is, "Have I responded by receiving Him and the salvation He came to give me?" If not, why not today?
Copyright © 2004 Thomas E Berry
All Scriptures quoted from NKJV unless otherwise noted