Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The birth and crucifixion of Christ

Often in the past few years I have heard pastors and teachers talk about the relationship of the manger and the cross and try to explain better to their congregations the importance of understanding why we celebrate Christmas, really. We know the answer - we’ve been singing it since we were children.
Joy to the World, the Lord has come!

God rest you merry, gentlemen, 
Let nothing you dismay. 
Remember Christ our Savior 
Was born on Christmas Day; 
The very word, “Christ” is the equivalent of the word mashiach (מָשִׁ֫יחַ, messiah) in Hebrew. He is the anointed One of God – he was set apart for this special task: our salvation. But that word also has a greater connotation. The Kings of Israel were anointed and “the Lord’s anointed” or “anointed one” was most often used to refer to a king. So this word isn’t simply the word for our Savior, but our King. What a word. Christ Jesus. Anointed King Jesus, our Savior.

The words of a new(er) worship song from River Valley Church in Minnesota caught my heart yesterday. It is a song that would perhaps be more commonly used on Easter Sunday than Christmastime. I couldn’t help but notice the connection.
I see my Savior 
With love in His eyes
His body broken 
With no sin to hide 

I see my Jesus 
Eyes blind with blood 
His face is crimson 
His cry is love 

No wonder we call You Savior 
No wonder we sing Your praise 
Jesus our hope forever 
You made a way
That is the reason he came to earth as a baby. To die, in pain, blind with blood, filled with love, sinless; to give me hope. To save me. I’m getting choked up as I write this. Do you understand how unfathomable a love like that is? It is so far beyond anything I can really comprehend. There are people I care about so much I would do anything for them. I think I would even die for them - but having never been presented with such a situation, I don’t actually know. And I’m not a spouse or a parent, so I can only imagine how much more they feel that way for their spouse and/or children. If you are one (or both) of those, you likely have an even better idea what it means to love someone more than you imagined was possible, and the idea that you would do anything for them. But I wonder if you can even fathom, even begin to wrap your mind around how much God loved us that he came down, as a tiny little human – a helpless baby – with the express purpose of teaching us what it looks like to live perfectly, and then dying an excruciating, horrible death so that we might be saved from eternity away from him? What a concept.

There’s a bridge near the end of the song that says this:
See the light tearing through the darkness 
Hear the roar of the rugged cross
Jesus Christ You alone have saved us
We worship You now
See the light… When I heard these words, I thought of the Star of David, the one the wise men were tracking, seeking the infant king. The images we’ve seen depicted (wrongly, but so strikingly) of the light of that star shining so distinctly down on the manger scene (and occasionally on a little house with a toddler instead). See the light… Hear the roar of the rugged cross. The roar. What a thought. That as the light of Jesus came down to earth, as the brightness of his glory, his kingship, our salvation – our way out of darkness – shone ever clearer, the roar became ever louder. All the way through each moment of his 33 years on the face of the earth, that roar was a steady beat growing louder in his ears, toward his crucifixion. If you knew that was what you were facing, would you have come? I honestly don’t think I would.

Which is why it is so truly amazing that he did. He came. He walked the earth he created and lived among us. He died for us, blameless yet taking all the blame. All of it; for those who had died, for those who were living, for those (like me) who had not yet been born. I have a way out of darkness, and he is it. He is the Way.

No wonder we call You Savior. No wonder we sing Your praise.

During this season, while it is a time to celebrate – and it truly is – and a time for family and friends and maybe even some rest; might we not forget, even for a moment – not even one – the real reason we rejoice. He is King, and he came for me.

full lyrics and performance video here.