Christmas – a time to celebrate the birth of Christ, the birth of the Saviour, to remember what came of that birth, that life and that promise. When I was on obstetrics, I loved watching the babies take their first breath. I thought of all the joy they would have, all the struggles they would go through, all the things they would grow to understand about the world. Yet, some children were born into difficult situations. I remember checking a baby who had been taken away from his mother and was going into foster care. I wondered what he would experience as he grew up, and how he would develop. Who would he confide in, and how would he deal with uncertainties that he had? One thing Jesus shows us, is that what you are born into does not necessarily determine what you will be, or who you will be. As Psalm 139:16 reminds us, God knows us, and gives us purpose even before we are formed in the womb.
“Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.” – [Psalm 139:16]
Christ came as our Saviour – to reconcile us to God, to cover all our sins with His grace, and to help us understand our God-given purpose, that we would live in eternal communion with God. We are born for an eternal inheritance, to be co-heirs with Christ, sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father.
A Saviour is Born
So what was Jesus born into? He was born into lowliness and much expectation, but He was also born into holiness and glory. Consider the circumstances of Jesus’ birth:
- He was conceived by the Holy Spirit to the virgin Mary. Imagine that pregnancy announcement!
- He was born in a lowly manger.
- He was born during the reign of King Herod, a cruel and murderous king. Herod, learning that the King of the Jews would be born in Bethlehem, ordered the massacre of the innocents which killed every boy in Bethlehem aged two and under.
- He was a child of promise – the Old Testament contains more than 300 prophecies about Jesus, His birth, His life, death and resurrection (all of which were fulfilled by Him).
- The wise men, and the shepherds visited the newborn Jesus, as it was revealed to them that He would be King of the Jews, Immanuel (God is with us).
- Soon after his birth, a man named Simeon, and a prophetess named Anna, confirmed that He would be the Messiah.
Here we have the Messiah starting out life in a manger with people worshipping Him, and others trying to kill Him. Fast forward to His thirties, and people are still worshipping Him, while others are trying to kill Him. Now what about our twenty-first century? Well, two thousand years after Christ, people are still worshipping Him, and others are still trying to kill Him.
The Bible tells us that Jesus did not let any of this deter Him from His purpose. He was obedient to God to the end. Because of this, the entire earth has been redeemed through the cleansing of His blood. Was Jesus affected by the circumstances in His life? Yes! He wept for the death of His friend Lazarus and the grief of Lazarus’ two sisters, He endured betrayal from His closest friends, He “sorrowful and deeply distressed” by the task that lay ahead of Him. Yet, Jesus still said, “Your will be done.” [Matthew 26:42]. Jesus was not overcome by the world, and He did not yield to temptation. Instead, He overcame the world, and made a way for us to do the same. His love is more all-encompassing, His purpose unaffected by circumstance, and His life freely given to all who believe in Him. He is Immanuel – God with us, the Saviour born to reconcile man to God.
“And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” – [John 6:40]
In the Footsteps of Salvation
What are we born into? What do we do when the world seems to be against us? Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith gives us promises to help us “run with endurance the race that is set before us.” [Hebrews 12:2]. Here are three ways Jesus helps us to live out His salvation.
- He gives us PEACE TO OVERCOME
“These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” – [John 16:33]
Jesus tells us we will face tribulation in the world. The longer we live in this world, the more we see all the trials and troubles that plague the earth. We face new challenges, but we also have a promise that we can overcome all things. Nothing is too difficult to God, and there is nothing we can experience that God will not see us through. He is faithful, and when we trust in Him, we have His peace, and His assurance. Jesus already overcame all things, even sin, and even death. Thus, through Christ, we are also able to overcome all things.
- He encourages us to PERSEVERE IN HOLINESS
“I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil one.” – [John 17:15]
Sometimes, we get discouraged. Many people become so discouraged to the point that they wish to be removed from the world. They may think that no-one understands them, or that they are worthless, or they may simply be tired of living in an imperfect world. Job expressed his anguish in suffering, saying, “Why is light given to the him who is in misery, and life to the bitter of soul, who long for death, but it does not come, and search for it more than hidden treasures.” [Job 3:20-21]. Yet, even in his suffering, Job remembers the authority of God as the author of life, and God reveals it again to Job. Moreover, Jesus’ prayer in John 17:15 shows us how he thinks about such situations. He prays NOT that we would be taken out of the worth, but rather that God would KEEP US from the evil one. If this is how Jesus prays for us, then this is how I want to pray when facing difficult circumstances. Lord, help me persevere, help me keep my eyes on you, for you have given me the shield of faith to extinguish every arrow of the evil one.
- He reminds us that GOD IS IN CONTROL
The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations… The Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.” [Psalm 33:11,13-15]
If our God is for us, who can be against us? The Bible is clear that God loves us, that God works all things for our good, that God cares about our lives and deeply desires that we would walk in the fullness of everything He has purposed for us. God is in control. There is no scheme of the Devil, no law on earth, no other authority that can alter God’s plans. Many things happen that we do not understand, but one thing we know – God is good, all the time. Do you believe this? Do you believe that the Saviour has already come? Do you believe that Christ has delivered us, that Jesus has already paid it all? God knows all things, and His plans and purposes never fail, so let go and trust God from whom salvation comes.
“Our soul waits for the Lord;
He is our help and our shield.
For our heart shall rejoice in Him,
Because we have trusted in His holy name.
Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us,
Just as we hope in You.”
– [Psalm 33:21-22]