Christmas. Who doesn't love it? How can you not enjoy reflecting on the most amazing miracle ever recorded, when transcendent God stooped to associate with humanity? But Christmas calls us to do more than look back. It calls us to look ahead with joy - or dread.
We cannot reflect on Jesus's birth without remembering why he came. He was not born just so we could have neat nativity scenes and songs about sweet baby Jesus. His main goal in life was not that we could get presents in his honor. His mission was set from before creation - he came to save sinners. Jesus was born to go to the cross, and to rise again and be glorified.
And we know that the story does not end there - Jesus is coming again! Christmas should remind us to not just look back on this wondrous event, but to look forward to its spectacular consummation. He came the first time to humbly go to the cross and die for our sin, but the second advent will have a significantly different goal:
"Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him." (Hebrews 9:25-28)
Christmas rightly taught should bring about two distinct reactions, depending on our standing before God. Those of us who are in Christ, who have had our sin dealt with, should experience both joy and eager expectation. We rejoice in what Jesus has done "by the sacrifice of himself", and long for the day when he returns to bring our salvation to its ultimate consummation. One of the all-too-often neglected marks of a Christian is an eager waiting for Christ's return. So this Christmas, if you are in Christ, ask yourself if you properly love the imminent second coming of Jesus Christ.
For those who are not saved, however, there is no such longing for his return. The thought of Jesus returning can bring only the dreadful realization that he is not coming again to deal with sin yet again. He is coming to judge, to crush his enemies beneath his feet, to slaughter the rebels who refused to submit to his righteous rule. They know that the second coming marks the end of the time of forbearance, that there will no longer be a chance to deal with sin, and that it is time to face the appointed judgment. No wonder they will do anything to turn the focus of the holiday away from Christ! Who wants to be reminded of such a fate?
This Christmas, I would encourage you to ponder what your attitude towards Christ's return says about the state of your soul. Are you eagerly longing for it? Horrifically dreading it? Or perhaps totally apathetic towards it?
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