Christmas is a time for reflecting on the Birth of Christ. There are many reasons why Christ is different from the others who claimed to be from God. First, his coming was pre-announced in Holy Scriptures. This is how the Wise Men from the East knew that Christ had been born. Furthermore, history was split in two upon his arrival. Today we celebrate Christmas–Two Thousand Twelve years after the year of his birth. Finally, Jesus was born to die on the cross of Calvary. His mission wasn’t merely to teach us how to live, but to secure our eternal life by his death. The prophecy, influence, and mission of Christ are valid reasons for believing that Jesus is not only different from other men claiming to be from God, but that he is Lord and Savior of Humanity.
The first sentence of the first book of the Holy Scripture reveals the origins of the universe, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
Moses penned these words as the Spirit of God –the same spirit that “moved upon the face of the waters”—directed his attention to the day God created life on planet Earth. He faithfully recorded what the Holy Spirit told Him about the six days of creation, and he must have been in awe of the power of God who is the source of time, space, energy, and matter. Through Moses we learn that God designed the universe in intricate detail and wrote the laws of physics, chemistry, and biology that make life possible on our planet.
Over fifteen-hundred years after Moses, the Apostle John identifies Jesus Christ as the creator of all life : “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:1-3).
The Apostle Paul knew Jesus as creator and proclaimed, “And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 3:9). He also states in his letter to the Colossians: “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him” (Colossians 1:15).
The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews claims that Jesus created all things, “God who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, who he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds” (Hebrews 1:1-2).
The first sentence of the Bible could easily read, “In the beginning Jesus created the heaven and earth.” The savior was not only present at creation, but He created all things that exist. It is even more amazing to consider the hands that fashioned Adam from the dust of the ground would one day be nailed to the wooden cross of Calvary for our sins. The Spirit of God who hovered over the waters during creation now hovers over our spiritual waters of darkness and void. Jesus Christ–The one who created the energy of light–is now the light that brings new life into the world:
“That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” ~ John 1: 9-12
If anyone had a reason to lose faith in God it was Daniel. King Nebuchadnezzar invaded his country and stole him away from his family and friends. He was taken as a royal captive and forced to live in Babylon. He was given a new identity and made to serve the Kingdom that destroyed his way of life. He must have had dark nights of doubt, discouragement, and despair. But even in the midst of all his suffering, Daniel refused to give up faith in God.
Daniel could handle living in a foreign land. He would wear new clothes and learn a new culture. But he refused to eat the unclean food, or drink the intoxicating wine, offered from the King’s table. He decided early on that he would rather die than give up his religious principles: “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way” (Daniel 1:8). He convinced his guards to allow him and his friends to eat only vegetables and water for ten days, and God blessed the results: “At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food” (Daniel 1:15).
How many of us have the honor, courage, and commitment to stand up for religious principles in the face of death? How many of us could maintain hope and confidence in God in the midst of Daniel’s circumstances? Is our faith strong enough to withstand the trials and tribulations that result from our belief in Jesus Christ?
Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it” (Mark 8:9).
Each of us needs to resolve in our own hearts not to defile ourselves by compromising the gospel of Jesus Christ. Even in the darkest of times, God is still directing our paths and we must always trust that God is in control.
I don’t know where many television evangelists get the message that we can have the assurance of health and wealth by believing in Jesus. This can be misleading to new Christians who expect that Jesus will take away all their troubles if they have enough faith.
Jesus said plainly, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (John 15:18). He also said, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33).
Did people forget that Jesus was crucified, and that eleven of the twelve apostles were put to death for preaching about Jesus? The apostle John, the only one who died a natural death, wouldn’t die when they tried to boil him in a vat of oil, so they put him in isolation on the Island of Patmos. Being a Christian puts one in conflict with the world, the flesh, and the devil.
The good news is that Jesus gives us the strength to endure our trials and tribulations. He offers us peace in the midst of conflict: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). “Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5:5).
Jesus never said it would be easy, but he promised it would be worth it in the end.
“To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my father on His throne” (Revelation 3:21).
Lord Jesus, give me words to sing for you,
Grant me by your spirit words of truth;
Open up the floodgates of your grace,
Let me see the sunlight of your face.
Our Father, Take my heart and make it yours,
Let your glory shine from heaven’s door;
Guide me in your wisdom all my days,
I worship you the truth, the life, the way.
Spirit, guide my heart and comfort me,
Cast all doubt into the darkest sea;
Plant your wisdom deep within my soul,
Let your love shine bright and make me whole.