As Christmas draws closer, I am aware more and more that Christmas is just the opening scene in a much broader story than a baby in a manger....
I watch my children start counting the days until Christmas clear back in September. All of fall, and most certainly December, is a countdown until Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. Not just for the presents - we purposely keep Christ as the focus and weave reminders into everything we do of why we are celebrating. But come Christmas night, as the last of the ribbons and wrapping paper is put away, there is a sense of sadness that it is "done" for another year. Much like the curtains falling closed after the final scene of a magnificent play.
We have it so backwards! Christmas is the opening scene of a story beyond comprehension! We are celebrating the beginning and then walking away before the grandest of finales! The magnificence of God is not truly shown in the virgin birth - it is shown in the sinless Son of God becoming sin on our behalf. It is shown in God's Son Himself bearing the wrath of God for our sins. It is shown in this great love. I cannot imagine a person that I could willingly kill my own son to save .....Yet, God sent His own Son to die for those that hate Him. Those that spit and mock and turn away from His Son on the cross....those that continue to do this even 2,000 years later.
Christmas should be the beginning of the grandest celebration - coming to a crescendo in the celebration of His death on our behalf and then the empty tomb on Easter morning. Not only did God in His mercy, send His own Son - God in His power, raised His Son from the dead! He is risen. HE IS RISEN!
One of the preachers I listen to the most is Paul Washer. I listen because of his passion for the Gospel. I listen because he challenges me like no other. I remember Mr. Washer was asked, I believe by a child, "How can I love God more, like you do?" His answer rocked me back on my heels in its simplicity and truth. He said that we can not just by strength of will - much like pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps - love Him more. He said, "You don't love Him like I do, because you don't know Him like I do."
WOW! Mr. Washer is so right. I don't love Him well because I don't know Him well. I study Scripture to know what I should and shouldn't do. I study Scripture to see what His will is for my life. I study Scripture to find answers to life's problems - but how often do I study Scripture to KNOW Him for who He is? This is a study that could occupy me for eternity! How can a finite, sinful being ever even begin to grasp the infinite, perfect Creator?
One of the areas that God's attributes and character can be seen on greatest display is at the cross. This is where we see the greatest problem in all eternity solved. The greatest problem is how can a perfectly just and righteous God, declare sinners righteous? If we have politicians or judges that cover over wrong or worse yet call wrong-doers innocent - we declare them corrupt and deceitful. Yet, we don't see the contradiction in thinking God can do the same thing.
If the study of God and the cross sounds honestly a little dry and not relevant to your life right now - it is because you don't know Him or the story of the cross. It is a bit like those who are looking out at a beautiful landscape and trying to get someone else to come look. Those seeing the beauty keep calling those others to come see it - and those who don't see it, don't think it is worth getting up to see. That is what those who have poured over the gospel, the cross, and God are doing - calling us to come see the beauty - beauty beyond description. But we don't want to take the time....we have other things that seem more important at the time.
If you want to be challenged, begin here: http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=12412113571 .
Then you will want to go here: http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=12101212450 .
And as you catch a glimpse of His majesty, you will no longer be satisfied with that glimpse - you will long for more. You will begin your own chase after another glimpse of the Almighty...and isn't that the purpose of man? To know God and glorify Him forever?
To Him be all glory, honor, and power - forever and ever. Amen!