in process “Jesus came to save us from oursleves”
By Glen Doss, Major
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure (Heb. 6:19 NIV).
For many people, it appears, Christmas means nothing more than parties, gifts, decorations and time off from work. But for Christians it is a poignant, joyful reminder of the hope we have in Jesus Christ.
Like an anchor holding a ship safely in position, the Christian’s hope in Christ guarantees his safety. Christ means hope—to the person out of work, to the backslider struggling through an addiction, to the one grappling with grave disappointment, to the dying believer. Clearly in this secular world in which we find ourselves, many fail to realize this hope. They have no true north principles for their lives, no absolutes to which to cling, no anchor for the soul: To put it plainly they are lost. Yet, it is for these very people that Jesus came. These are the sufferers whose pain tugs constantly at his heartstrings. He announced to the world, “For the Son of man came to seek and save those who are lost” (Luke 19:10 NLT).
When Jesus—walking the earth in human flesh—observed the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matt. 9:36 NIV). He was well aware then that we needed him; we need him still.
And we ALL need him, we mortals so foolishly bent on our own destruction: That is our inclination and has been so since the beginning, when we fell in Eden. It was for no less than this purpose—to save us from ourselves— that Jesus came; he knew we were helpless to run our lives on our own. That was our dilemma 2,000 years ago; it remains so today. Nothing has changed; certainly we have not, and Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Heb. 13:8 NIV).
It is evident from even a cursory examination of history that the fundamental nature of the human heart has remained unaltered over time. Always, when left to its own devices, the inclination of the heart is evil (Gen. 8:21). God’s beautiful but tantalizing world is way too big for us, yet its satisfactions far too small. Because God originally made us for eternity, the limited pleasures of our world are insufficient to satisfy us, and tragically we have proved particularly adept at creating havoc in our limitless drive to satisfy ourselves.
It was upon such a world stage—one sinking into dissolution through the weight of its own corruption—that the Son of God appeared two millennia ago. God became one of his own creations for the very purpose of dying in our place, taking upon himself the punishment we rightfully deserve for having wronged him. Through his subsequent resurrection from the dead we have the opportunity for a new, eternal, rich and satisfying life (John 10:10 NLT).
Paul succinctly summed it up in 2 Cor. 5:21—God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. In a miraculous exchange God and humanity reversed places; he became our sin so that we may appropriate his sinless state. When Jesus died, our sins died with him. Righteous now, through the blood he shed for us, we men and women are made suitable habitats for the Spirit of Christ—he may take up residence within us, if we so choose. Praise the Lord!
The Roman centurion standing near the cross was so profoundly impacted by the compelling miracle taking place before his very eyes that he impulsively blurted out, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39).
Ask yourself: When Jesus died—Why the three hours of darkness in the middle of the day? (Matt. 27:45); Why was the curtain in the temple ripped in two? (Matt. 27:51); Why the earthquake? (Matt. 27:51); Why did the tombs break open and the bodies of the dead come to life and climb out? (Matt. 27:51-52); Why did Christ cry out from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46)?
It is because Jesus Christ is far more than he appeared; he is also the very cement sustaining the universe. Col. 1:17 informs us: In him all things hold together. Yet at that instant things fell apart. In a way so mysterious we will never fully understand it, Christ became our sin. Yet Scripture informs us that God, in his holiness, is too pure to look upon sin (Hab. 1:13). Therefore, for a moment God was separated from God: there was a rare disconnect between God the Father and God the Son.
There were shocking results: a breach in the very fabric of the universe—nature broke down. Hence the despairing cry from the cross and the subsequent bizarre behavior of nature—the midday darkness, the inexplicably ripped curtain, the earthquake, people rising from the dead. Hades itself had been impacted by the remarkable, historical event, the purpose for which Jesus had come—death had been destroyed.
Then, as suddenly as it had begun, the marvelous deed was over, when Jesus said: “It is finished. Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (John 19:30; Luke 23:46). The great and awful feat had been accomplished—what Jesus had come to do in the first place: to die for us in order that we need no longer live for ourselves but for him who died for us and was raised again (2 Cor. 5:15). Our firm and secure hope in Jesus has been realized.
Praise God and Merry Christmas, everyone!