As we come to celebrate Christmas, what does it mean that Jesus was born into this world? I’m not looking at less significant arguments about the date and origin of December 25 – but what does it really mean that Jesus was born in this world?
To me, it seems that from the moment Jesus was conceived, the fabric of life – the way we thought we knew life and death to be – was torn, ripped up and set aside. The old way had passed – a new way has been set in front of us. We celebrate that in many ways, but often miss the significance – on the day Jesus was conceived, the world was irrevocably changed.
Apart from the very first 2 people on this earth, everyone has been conceived and born in essentially the same way. Until Jesus – born of a virgin.
Apart from 2 people(Enoch, Elijah), everyone’s life at some point came to an end. If you say that their life on this earth came to an end, then it applies to them all. Until Jesus.
When I think about it, this visual comes to mind.
Mark 15:33–39 (ESV)
And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
“And the curtain of the temple was torn in two”
No longer did sin have to be atoned for by the blood of sheep and goats. No longer did a high priest have to cleanse himself, and then go once a year only into the Holy of Holies to offer sacrifices for the sins of all of the people. We now have a High Priest in Jesus, who paid the full penalty for our sins, that we might be right with the father.
But there is more. For not only was the law changed, not only our relationship with God changed, not only the cycle of life changed, but also death.
Mark 16:1–7 (ESV)
When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”
Jesus took death, and tore the fabric of life as we know it in two by being the first to rise from the dead. Jesus is alive, never to face death again, for He has conquered it!
That is such an utterly amazing thing to consider – that since Jesus, the world has never been the same. From conception, to His sinless life, to His death that paid for our sins, to His resurrection, everything about Jesus changed the world as we know it.
So how then are we living?
Do you live in light of the resurrection? Are you living as one who has not death to look forward to – but life eternal? For that is the core and substance of the Christian message. Your sins have been paid for, and you do not have death to look forward to – but life eternal. Life without sin, without fear, without pain, without suffering.
I sometimes really struggle with this concept. Our lives here on this earth seem so long – they seem so permanent. And yet – they are nothing in even in the history of people as a whole. I struggle sometimes to see the eternal aspect of my life – and to focus on what is important eternally, not this year, this month, this day, this hour! The apostle Paul has some great advice for us on that front.
Romans 8:18 (ESV)
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
What we face today is nothing compared to eternity.
So take a look at your life now – and ask yourself honestly – are you living in the light of the resurrection? Are you living as though this is not the only life we have to live, but just the life we have now before the resurrection comes for us too? What are you doing today that will have an effect for eternity?
Or do you live as if Jesus had never conquered death? Do you live as if this is your only life – lets eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die?
As we celebrate Christmas, remember the reason we celebrate the birth of a little baby. Because from the very conception of that baby – the baby Jesus – the fabric of our existence was torn in two – and changed for eternity.