Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Merry Christmas! I hope this post finds you safe and well. It's that time of year again, when a feeling of peace and tranquility permeates the air (except in shopping centers), and people take a break from what they are doing to visit friends and relatives. It is also at this time that Christians traditionally celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Although modern scholars are almost certain that he wasn't born this time of year, I will not be discussing that. Instead, I want to go with tradition, and talk a bit about the coming of the Lamb of God, who took away the sins of the world.
In Genesis Chapter 3 God says an offspring of Eve will bruise the serpent's head, and the serpent will bruise his heel. While some modern scholars point to the natural hate of humans towards snakes, I will be going with the traditional view, which holds that this is the first announcement of the gospel, that one would come and defeat the serpent (Satan). Throughout the Old Testament there is an underlying expectation that this savior would come, and there are numerous prophesies, which the birth of Jesus fulfilled, and which I have no time to get into. The birth of Jesus Christ, the servant king, the Son of God, was what paved the way for his later death and subsequent resurrection. The first coming of Christ was lowly, in a manger, wrapped in swaddling cloths, with no servants to see to his every need and to announce his arrival, but with shepherds, summoned to the manger by angels.
Every Christmas I wonder how this holiday became greater than Easter. Because if the birth of Christ is important, the death and resurrection - as a penal substitution for us - is even more important. His birth did nothing for us, other than the fact that it fulfilled numerous prophesies and showed us how he came not to be served, but to serve. His death and resurrection, on the other hand, displayed for us the supreme love of God (that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us). Many have misinterpreted his death, such as Rob Bell in his recent book Love Wins, in which he holds that no God who would send people to Hell just for not believing in his son would not be worthy of worship. To which I would counter that God does not send people to Hell because they don't believe in his son, he sends people to Hell because he is perfectly just and holy, and cannot abide sin. Sin cannot enter heaven, because sin cannot endure the presence of God (Rom. 6:23a "for the wages of sin is death,") . But Love does win, because God is also all loving (2 Pet. 3:9 "The Lord is not slow in fulfilling his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance."), and he sent his one and only son to die in the sinner's stead, taking the punishment of sin for us (John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he have his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life."). If we accept the gift of God (Rom. 6:23b "but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."), repenting of our sin and accepting the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, then we are no longer condemned of our sin, but Christ's blood washes us white as snow, and our sins are blotted out. We are then capable of getting to heaven, not through any work of our own, but by the grace of God.
So yes, love wins, not in the way that Rob Bell sees it - where even those who died in rebellion to God go to heaven and live in his presence until they are eventually wooed to faith (technically that wouldn't be faith, it would be knowledge) - but through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, and Christ wins.
So, as you do your last minute Christmas shopping, make your rounds to deliver gifts, visit your family, or spend a relaxing day shoveling snow from your driveway, remember that the birth of Christ is just the beginning of the greatest story ever, how God's son died for us, while we were his enemies.
Have a merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Your Brother in Christ,