December 25, 2020

I Peter 3:18  

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.

 

On Monday we started in Genesis to begin the Christmas story. Today, we jump all the way to the end of the story – Jesus’s crucifixion. Consider it like reading the end of a novel first, or jumping straight to the spoiler ending of a movie. Have you ever watched a movie with a surprise twist, and it changes your perspective on several key scenes in the movie? Rewatching those movies is almost as entertaining as the first time through, as you can see the threads of the plot twist being laid out piece by piece. That’s why we are looking at the end of the gospel story on Christmas.

In First Peter, we see that Jesus’s entire purpose was “to bring you to God.” If the story of Christmas starts with the exile in the garden, it ends here with a reconciliation brokered and carried out by Christ himself. His death and resurrection was to bring us to God. Have you ever looked at the Christmas story from the perspective of Jesus’s eventual sacrifice? It changes every part of the story. The angel Gabriel tells Mary that Jesus will be a great ruler. But we know that he will rule through sacrifice, not military might. The angels tell the shepherds that the Messiah has come. As they shout of his greatness, we know that immeasurable suffering will be His crowning glory. When Jesus is taken to the temple to be consecrated, an old man named Simeon says, 

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,

    you may now dismiss your servant in peace.

For my eyes have seen your salvation,

     which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:

a light for revelation to the Gentiles,

    and the glory of your people Israel.” – Luke 2:29-32

We know that God’s salvation, our reconciliation, will be bought with blood. The baby in Mary’s arms was born to die. The clearest foreshadowing is also given by Simeon, as he says to Mary, “And a sword will pierce your own soul, too.”  (Luke 2:35b) He is telling her that she will witness the brutal crucifixion of her son. 

In light of this “plot twist,” let me encourage you to reflect on two things. 

  1. As you celebrate the joy of Christmas, do not forget that all of the good things we associate with Christmas – love, joy, peace, hope, friendship, and generosity – were bought with a price. Let your happiness be tinged with sorrow and thankfulness.
  2. As you observe your own exile, from family, from traditions, from home, and even from yourself – who you want to be or wish you were – try to see it with the end in mind. Exile will end, and in ways we cannot always understand, even our current pain is a part of the story of Jesus bringing us to God.
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