Due to inclement weather, the 9 a.m. service for Sunday, Jan. 20 has been cancelled. We will have one morning service at 10:45 a.m. as road conditions improve.

Among Us

by Matt McClay

Despite popular Christmas songs to the contrary, those of us who believe in Christ know that the real reason for the holiday season is not that “Santa Claus is coming to town,” but, rather, that God came to town in the form of his Son, Jesus. The gospel of John captures the wonder of Jesus’ arrival, reading, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14 ESV). What an incredible truth: The self-existing One, the God of Heaven and earth, wrapped himself in human flesh and lived among us! Through the earthly life of Jesus, we come to clearly understand the heart of God, his compassion for the lost and lonely, his power to save, heal, and restore, and his authority over the affairs of this world. Christmas is a time to remember that we simply can never thank God the Father enough for sending his Son to live among us. Through Jesus’ birth, sinless life, substitutionary death, and victorious resurrection, we have been given new life with him that begins now and lasts forever!

Can you imagine the excitement of Jesus’ followers in the days after his resurrection? Consider the range of emotions they experienced as they watched their leader, with whom they served for three years of their lives, die a gruesome death only to bring himself back to life three days later. When Jesus appeared to them after his resurrection, and His followers, naturally, wanted to know what would happen next. Would Jesus raise up an army to overthrow the oppressive Roman Empire? Would he restore to Israel their long-promised kingdom? The risen Jesus responded to the awe and wonder of his followers by commissioning them to follow his example. Jesus said, as recorded in  John 20:21, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”

As the Christmas season is upon us, we as believers should be grateful not only for the birth and life of Christ, but we should consider how, just as the Father sent Jesus to live among us, Jesus has sent us to live among a lost and dying world. This Christmas, consider these three truths of the Christmas story and how they impact the way we live and love like Jesus.

#1 - Jesus came as a person.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem represented a profound historical development from eternity past: For the first time, God became a human. The incredible truth of the incarnation is that Jesus, while never ceasing to be God, lived a human experience. He was born a human, lived as a human, died as a human, and rose again as a human. Jesus experienced hunger, pain, rejection, fatigue, temptation, and many other experiences that define our human existence. It’s no wonder that so many people over the centuries have been drawn to Jesus. He gets us. He bridged the gap between God and man by living among us.

As followers of Jesus, we have been sent to be his representatives to those around us. In fact, one of Jesus’ final matters of prayer before his death on the cross was that his followers would be sent into the world on his behalf (John 17:18). One of the reasons God became a person was so that we could relate to his personality. God sends us on a mission so that people can relate to his message. Even with all of the powerful mediums of communication available to us today, the most powerful witnesses to the gospel of Jesus come through us, as we allow the truth of God’s Word to fill our personalities as we proclaim his message.

#2 - Jesus came in poverty.

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich (2 Corinthians. 8:9).

The story of Christmas compels us to marvel at the condescension by which Jesus came to live among us. Jesus gave up the worship of the heavenly host to be questioned, mocked, and scorned by people. He left the beauty of Heaven to walk the dusty streets of Palestine. He traded a throne for a manger, a cross, and a grave. It’s hard to imagine more modest circumstances than those surrounding the birth of Jesus. Shortly after his birth, to avoid King Herod’s decree of death, Jesus’ family fled to Egypt where they lived as aliens in a foreign land. Jesus spent his childhood growing up in the Galilean town of Nazareth, a place not exactly known for raising up successful leaders (John 1:46). Before his earthly ministry, Jesus was known to be a carpenter, a respectable, yet modest occupation at the time (Mark 6:3). Jesus said, of himself, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Matt. 8:20). While Jesus, by virtue of his being God in the flesh, had authority over all of the riches of Heaven, the earthly resources he utilized during his time on earth were minimal.

When we consider Jesus’ commission to us, it’s easy to become discouraged when we compare the great spiritual needs of our time with what little we have to offer in and of ourselves. Christmas is a reminder that not only does God use those of us who were born into modest means, but that Jesus himself, God in the flesh, was born into humble circumstances. As the Father sent Jesus, so Jesus is sending us with our meager resources to be used of him.

#3 - Jesus came with a purpose.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him (John 3:17).

Ultimately, at Christmas we remember that Jesus was born to die. The Father sent Jesus on a mission to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). Jesus came at Christmas because he was the only sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the world. His divinity qualified him with the power to overcome sin, death, and hell, and his humanity qualified him to serve as our substitute on the cross. Jesus was sent into the world by the Father on a mission that no one else could accomplish.

Just as the Father sent the Son on a mission at Christmas, you and I, as followers of Jesus, have been sent on a mission. Jesus’ final command to his followers is “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Christmas is a reminder that, just as God the Father sent Jesus incarnationally (as a human) and missionally (with a purpose), so Jesus has sent us to live on purpose, sharing the good news of Jesus to those around us. As we enter the season of Christmas parties, busy shopping malls, and family get-togethers , let’s remember that Jesus has us where we are for a reason. Maybe, through our sharing of the gospel, someone we know will experience a REAL Christmas by coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus!
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