Remembering and Rejoicing over Christ's Birth

"For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given..." -- Isaiah 9:6.

"This is My body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of Me...also the cup...saying, This cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you." -- Luke 22:19-20.

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It is ironic that it is in the last month of the year that the birth of our Lord Jesus is celebrated; yet it is, without question, the biggest holiday of the year.

It is the season for giving: parents give gifts to their children; children give gifts to their parents; friends give gifts to each other; charities focus attention on efforts to get people to give to their causes; businesses give bonuses to their employees. This month there’s a good deal of hype about giving.

Yet, the focus of God’s giving is not on the birth of His Son into the world, but on His death and His giving Himself, a ransom for us all.

Not once does the Lord, or the Scripture, suggest that we should celebrate His birth; but, instead—on the very eve of His betrayal by Judas, His desertion by His apostles—His crucifixion on the Cross, rejected by those whom He came to save. "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners..." (1 Tim. 1:15).

"Not to condemn the world
The Man of Sorrows came;
But that the world might have
Salvation through His Name."

His very Name, Jesus, means "salvation". Indeed He is the only hope for men, for it is not the life we live, or even the life He lived; but the death He died makes salvation possible and actual for all who trust Him as Saviour and own Him as Lord.

While He did not, does not, ask us to remember His birth, He did ask us to remember His death, and we are told that, "as oft as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show forth the Lord’s death until He come."

It is the season, year-round, for giving and receiving. His gift is absolutely meaningless to any of us until we receive Him—"the gift of God, which is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

The Lord does not ask us to remember His birthday; but He does ask us to remember His death day, for "Christ also has once (once for all) suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God" (1 Peter 3:18).

The gospel is defined for us in 1 Cor. 15:1-4. It is by means of this gospel that we are saved. It is the gospel that Christ told His disciples: "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."

The gospel of Christ vaults over all race boundaries, all natural boundaries, and all language boundaries, for "the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes" (Rom. 1:16).

The gospel (good news) is that "Christ died for our sins." He bore our sins in His own body on the tree.

"All thy iniquities on Him were laid;
All thy indebtedness by Him was paid;
All who believe on Him, the Lord hath said,
"Hath everlasting life."

"He was buried." His death was the death of death, for He arose again in the power of an endless life. God reckons His death and resurrection as the death and resurrection of everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. Of all such, it can be said, "Death and judgment are behind; grace and glory are ahead!"

There is only one sensible thing to do with the Gift of God—receive it! "To as many as receive Him, God gives the power (right) to become the children of God, even to them that believe on His Name" (John 1:12).

God’s greatest gift is His Son, for "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). "For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if One died for all, then were all dead...and that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again" (2 Cor. 5:14-15).

Christ’s greatest gift is Himself. "Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it." Each believer can also say, "The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me." Such great love demands a loving response.

"Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my heart, my life, my all!"

Any time of the year should be a time for both giving and receiving gifts. The place to begin is by receiving God’s greatest gift—His Son. What a mockery it is for men

and women or boys and girls to exchange gifts and then to neglect to receive God’s choicest Gift, His beloved Son!

"Oh, what a gift the Father gave,
When He bestowed His Son,
To save poor ruined, guilty man,
By sin defiled, undone!"

A well known cartoonist, one Christmas time, drew a picture depicting a rude cross with, at its base, a little gift-wrapped box with a tag attached: "Eternal Life." The caption under the picture said: "The gift, still waiting at the tree." Of that tree, and that Saviour, the apostle Peter wrote: "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree." No tree ever bore richer fruit for needy men and women than that one tree at Calvary. God’s gift of eternal life is available to all who simply trust that Saviour.

"Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place, condemned, He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood;
Hallelujah! What a Saviour!"

It is His atoning death that He asks us to remember.

"Oh, that we never might forget
What Christ has suffered for our sake,
To save our souls and make us meet,
Of all His glory to partake!"

Our giving can never measure up to what we have received from Him; but it should elicit a sacrificial response from us, like the Macedonian believers, who "first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God" (2 Cor. 8:5).

He said to His disciples, of that memorial bread: "This is My body, which is given for you," and implied that, having been bought (Acts 20:28) by such a price, they (and we) should glorify God in our bodies (1 Cor. 6:19-20). So, the apostle calls to each of us today: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world..." (Romans 12:1-2).

"I gave My life for thee,
My precious blood I shed,
That thou might’st ransomed be,
And quickened from the dead;
I gave, I gave My life for thee;
What hast thou given for Me?
And I have brought to thee,
Down from My home above,
Salvation full and free,
My pardon and My love;
I bring, I bring rich gifts to thee;
What hast thou brought to Me?"

POEM

Oh, wretched man! Where can I go?
What arm can help or save?
I look behind, around, below—
Naught see, or hear, but deepening woe;
Before me yawns the grave;
Beyond the darkness of the tomb,
The horrors of eternal doom!

"Look unto Me," the Saviour cries.
Behold! Upon the tree,
Between two thieves, Emmanuel dies,
The Lamb of God, a sacrifice,
He bears the curse for me;—
Oh, love unsearchable, divine,

His life He gives to ransom mine!
Oh, how my inmost heart doth move,
While gazing on that tree;
The death of the Incarnate Love!
What shame, what grief, what joy I prove,
That He should die for me!
My heart is broken by that cry,
"Eli, lama sabachthani?"

Worthy of death, O Lord, I am;
That vengeance was my due;
Thy grace upon Thy spotless Lamb,
Laid all my sins & guilt & shame;
Justice my Surety slew;
With Him I in my Surety died,
With Him I there was crucified.

Quickened with Him with life divine,
Raised with Him from the dead,
His own—and all His own are Thine!—
Shall with Him in His glories shine,
His Church’s living Head;
We, who were worthy but to die,
Now with Him, "Abba, Father," cry!