Thursday, December 01, 2011

Christmas, the Cross and the Empty Tomb

I am a Christmas nut. I absolutely love Christmas time. I love the lights, the sounds and the bustle. I actually enjoy going to the mall and just walking around. One of my most favorite things is the music. Right now my iPod contains 691 Christmas songs. I have: 

  • 12 versions of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen or God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen or God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (It seems to me that the comma placement can drastically change the meaning of the song.) 
  • 13 versions of What Child is This?
  • 16 versions of Joy To The World
  • 1 version of Dominic The Italian Christmas Donkey (I mean really; anything more than that is just superfluous.)
But the song that takes the cake is the whopping 23 versions of Silent Night. Which may be arguably the classic Christmas song. Interestingly it was originally written to be played on a guitar in 6/8 time which is a more upbeat time. It is a swing or dance pattern that is used in popular music (think Shout To The North by Delirious or House Of The Rising Sun by The Animals). So Silent Night might be the true precursor to modern guitar rock. But I digress.

The reason that I love Christmas is that it is when God came down to earth. It is what we call the Incarnation; God took the form of humanity. There has been much debate over the years as to the details of what all the Incarnation entails. But the most important thing to know about the Incarnation is that it means that God cares intimately about us as human beings. He wants to draw close to us and not to merely sit on high. 

We are all separated from God by all of the things that we do wrong. We all commit sin. We all do things that are morally wrong. And there is nothing that we can do to make up for those wrongs. We can never achieve perfection again. I have shared the illustration of the poison in the water glass before:

I find it helpful to imagine a glass of water and a vial of extremely strong poison. The poison is so powerful that a single drop in the water is enough to cause death. The water is considered corrupt as soon as that drop is added. Now that glass of water misses the bulls-eye of being pure water. In the same way, as soon as we commit a single sin we are no longer considered pure.

The only way for that water to be pure again is to go through a purifying process. That is where Jesus comes in. Jesus coming to earth in the form of a human being was just the first step in providing the perfect purifying process. What is important for a Christmas nut like me to remember is that the Incarnation does not mean anything by itself. Jesus' death on the cross was also necessary. Paul is quite clear in Romans 6:23 that our sinfulness bring death. Fortunately for us Jesus stepped in and paid that penalty for us. That is what he accomplished on the cross.

But there is more.

Jesus coming to earth in the form of a human and dying on the cross for our sins are incomplete without his resurrection as well. Jesus not only paid the penalty for our sin but he also provides life for us as well. Paul ends Romans 6:23 by saying that we are given eternal life through our faith in Jesus Christ.

Christmas may called the most wonderful time of the year. But as Christians we cannot separate Christmas from Good Friday and Easter. It is incomplete without them. So take the time to enjoy all of the wonders of Christmas but remember that the ultimate gift came in full on Easter morning.

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