They were not talking about peace on earth with the nations getting together to sing “Kumbaya” as some would have you believe. No, this child laying in a manger had come to bring peace all right, peace between a pure, Holy God and sinful humanity. He was to bring reconciliation which is something on our own is impossible to achieve.
A cursory reading of Ephesians 2 and Romans 3 will give us the picture of our condition – dead in our sins, children of wrath, sons of disobedience, having fallen short of the glory of God. Not a pretty picture.
So God became man and dwelled among us, (John 1:14). Immanuel – God is with us. Jesus Christ, the God-Man, could have come as a King for that would have been fitting, instead He came as a servant. Philippians 2 says that He did not consider equality with God something to even be grasped. Scripture says that He made Himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant. The Greek word for servant in Philippians 2:7 is δούλου, a word that means bond-servant and can also be accurately translated as “slave.” The lowest form He possibly could take in contrast to who He truly was (and is). We then also learn that even more than that He humbled Himself to the point of obedience to death on a criminal’s cross, paying the penalty for our sin.
What to make of this Christ child who was fashioned for a Roman cross? We can’t just keep Him in that manger. Even though it’s comfortable for some people to keep Him there, but no. He didn’t come for us to be comfortable.
How should we respond?
You can respond in one of three ways.
1. You can ignore Him.
John 1:10 says, “He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him,” (ESV).
With all that goes on during Christmas, it is easy to blow right past this significant event. This season we celebrate starts with this truth: Jesus Christ was in the world. He was one of us and He lived among us for 33 years!
Most people have never recognized Jesus for who he really is – God in the flesh, Lord of the Universe and Savior of mankind. Think about it, when He came the first time, Herod hated him, the scribes ignored Him, and there was no room for Him in the Inn. The only reception he was given were by poor shepherds and wise men from out-of-town.
You don’t have to do much TV watching and web surfing to realize that not much has changed today as the birth of Jesus slips from our cultural discourse. This time of year has been more about Santa Claus, family, and presents than the Christ Child.
Jesus came to the world that He created, and the “world did not recognize Him.”
2. You can reject Him.
John 1:11 says, “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.”
Literally the phrase “he came to his own” means “to come home.” Isn’t home where they have to take you in?
Jesus came to the people who should have known Him the best – Israel, but they wanted nothing to do with Him. Jesus came “home” to his own people and they wouldn’t take Him in.
They should have known better because they knew He was coming. Numerous prophecies throughout the Old Testament point to this one great truth – He’s coming. One day God would send His Messiah to deliver His people Israel.
When Jesus finally arrived, they didn’t receive Him because they didn’t want to. To not receive means “to reject.” Instead of welcoming Him home they drove Him away.
This is a theological, as well as, a historical observation. People in general reject God. And the reason we reject Him is because we want to. While some people are sincere seekers of Jesus, the Bible says that most of us are looking to be rid of Him. People are blind because it is our very nature to reject the light.
3. You can receive Him.
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in His name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God,” (John 1:12-13, ESV).
Notice the three key words.
Received. This is an active word with a deep meaning. It literally means, “to take” or “to seize.” Those who receive Christ are those who welcome or accept Him into their lives.
Jesus is God’s gift to us at Christmas. We can choose to ignore Him, or reject Him, or we can take what has freely been offered to us. Have you taken hold of Him? Have you received Him into your life?
Believed. To believe means to engage our total being so that we put our trust completely in Christ by committing our lives to Him.
I’m not talking about an intellectual assent or an emotional response. Biblical belief always involves receiving, or responding to what God in Christ has done for us.
Believe, Receive and then become. We must first believe that Jesus is the only way to a relationship with God the Father. The we must actually receive what He has done by personally receiving His gift of salvation. Then we become – he actually gives us the right to become children of God.
Right- this world means “honor” or “privilege.” The moment you personally receive Christ into your life, God give you the honor of becoming a member of His family. We are given permission to become a child of God when we believe and receive.
The whole Gospel is in the little phrase “born of God.” Salvation is of the Lord. It is a free gift – totally free and totally of grace. It isn’t a cooperative venture where you do your part and God does his. He does it all.
Salvation is God’s work from start to finish and is wrapped up in the birth, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Christmas is a great reminder that we’ve not been forgotten. We live on a visited planet. Immanuel has paid us a visit.
What will be or has been your response?