I wonder if you know why Jesus came?
Sounds funny but most people don’t really know. I would suggest that most people never actually think about it. So intent our we with our distractions that we rarely stop and do that thing that smart people do: think.
That Jesus actually came cannot be denied by any but the most ignorant or unlearned or…dare I say it…. uninterested. That we give ourselves the right to not even be intrigued by something so poignant, so powerful amazes but doesn’t surprise me anymore.
The Roman census that recorded a no-account young maiden and her fiancé a lowly shepherd proves the birth of Jesus beyond any doubt, in fact the hand of Almighty God can certainly be seen in it. Caesar Augustus was apparently a little fed up with King Herod of the Jews and, rather than treat him as a friend anymore decided rather to let him know he was a mere vassal of Rome by ordering a census for “taxation purposes” which didn’t even come to pass for another decade. A power play from one tyrant to a smaller one, and yet the great Ruler of the world had obviously set the pieces in play for one purpose and one purpose only:
You and I simply cannot deny the fact that Jesus was born.
If that makes you feel uneasy just do what everybody else does after this revelation: distract yourself from actually doing anything about it.
Sooner or later your life will ripen with the same weeds and thistles evident in the world that Jesus was born into. Your marriage will experience trouble, your finances will fall off the rails, you will have THAT child, you will go through heartbreak or betrayal, you will be disappointed or you will severely disappoint someone you love.
Why do weeds grow so much better than crops in this world? Why is sin so easy? Why is being a bad parent so much easier than being a good one? Why are breaking the rules so fun?
There is a sickness that began with Adam and Eve. I explored the topic of Choice and its consequences a couple of months ago but the long and short of it is… we fall for the same ploy that Adam and Eve did. Our choice was between what was good and what was evil but we took it a disastrous step further: we tried to BE god and decide for ourselves what was right and what was wrong! Anytime you hear someone say “That might be right for you but this is right for me!” you know the sickness behind it. It is the attempt of mankind to throw off the kindness of the God who made us in His own image and actually replace HIM in our minds with ourselves. WE decide what’s right and wrong now!
But sin leads to death every single time. Death in relationships. Death in marriages. Death in friendships. Sometimes it happens all at once but other times it’s a little death on top of a little death and separation comes sooner or later. Sin separates us because it can’t do anything else.
The first separation that needs to be addressed is the distance between us and our Creator. This chasm cannot be crossed by thinking, talking, trying, really anything you are capable of doing as a sinful human. The irritating truth is that we are dark and what fellowship has darkness with light? “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” The severity cannot be denied even if it can be ignored for a time. The penalty of our arrogance in deciding to be our own gods comes due at our death. The trouble is that it is too late for redemption then. A terrifying fact for sure that we largely ignore because of our fear, ignorance or simple lack of courage. But smart people do that thing that the rest of us don’t: they stop and THINK occasionally.
Some people think that Jesus came to judge us but that is certainly not true. Had it been that way He would have been born in a palace and everything that followed would have looked different than what we see actually happened. He was born a nobody (carefully recorded by Rome…what are the chances???) and died worse than a nobody between two thieves on a cross. To see why He came we have to look at how he came.
Immanuel. God with us. This was a prophecy fulfilled in the birth of Jesus. It shocks me and I know this story well. I let it shock and dismay me even now. God with me? Why? That God would send His Son to die for the sins of mankind cannot be understood or grasped by the wisest, because the wisest would never deliver up their own for the sinner. So much higher the love and care of God than anything we can understand that we know in our sinfulness and the depth of our being its divinity. Undeserved and unexpected. And we distract ourselves to bypass feeling anything about it.
That our society seems to value those who hide in the impregnable fortress of isolation and pride and independence, and value them above those who take life as it comes and have the guts to walk into truth and its partner pain wherever they find it bothers me. The men and women I see who have walked into blinding truth and let it strip them of themselves are the ones I admire. Only in being stripped down to nothing do we realize where true value is. When we are brought low we see the clearest. When our ego is flayed and our weakness exposed we sometimes find purpose and meaning. Not always but sometimes.
Surely Jesus was beaten and brought low for us. That He came we can’t deny but that backs us into a corner with few options. He was either a Liar, a Lunatic, or He is Lord.
If a liar, He wasn’t very smart as liars lie to protect themselves or gain something. Did He lie and provoke His own death? No one would do that and I reject that utterly!
Lunatic is the next possibility. Lunatics are rarely admired thousands of years later for profound teachings, though some lunatics do start religions. Lunatics don’t stand the test of reason and Jesus’ teachings always did. The set of beliefs He set forth confound us because of our own sickness and tiny minds (how can a human claim to know the mysteries of the universe? That is shocking to me. I can’t even keep my own rules most days…), but you cannot argue with the reason behind them. So if you subscribe to Jesus being a lunatic He wasn’t a very selfish one. It is a possibility however and should be discussed as such. People tend to feel sorry for lunatics being tortured to death but the leaders of the day could only curse and hate, and so I put this possibility aside.
If He is Lord of all I have a problem whose remedy can only be found in Him. All of my ideas and ideals matter nothing. All of my good deeds are like filthy rags. Though I give my body to be burned I cannot of my own effort cross the chasm between my Maker and I. I can only take the first lurching stumble and be caught in the arms of another. That is what truly terrifies me. The much vaunted power and pride of the human race brought to nothing in a moment of clarity….
The only thing that brings me to the King above all kings is the blood of Another.
It is not what I wanted. It is not what I expected. But it is ENOUGH.