By Not Known
The Bible talks about the birth of Jesus as an historical event. Events in history have several aspects:
there is the event itself, or the raw facts of ‘what happened?‘
there is our interpretation of the event, or ‘what does it mean?‘
- there is our response to the event and it interpretation, or ‘what must I do?‘
Concerning the birth of Jesus, all these aspects are well covered in 1 Tim 1: 15- 16: Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners… those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.
The event: Jesus, who is God’s Christ, came into the world. God emptied himself of heaven’s glory and took on our bruised and frail flesh, to enter our world as one of us. The Christmas stories and many other Bible passages emphasise the historical reality and fleshiness of this event – for example, 1 Jn 4:2. Put simply, if Jesus did not really came into our world as a matter of fact, there is no Christmas message.
The interpretation: Jesus came to save sinners. The cradle cannot be understood without the Cross (and likewise there is no Cross without the cradle). Jesus taught, healed and did other miracles. He showed us what it is to be truly human. But all of this is nothing without the Cross that saves. We need saving because our sins place us under God’s judgement. We cannot save ourselves. But God can and does save us. That is why Jesus came and that is what he did. Whatever else we may say about the coming of Jesus, we must relate it to his work of salvation.
The response: The news that Jesus came to save sinners needs our acceptance. The kind of acceptance it needs is to believe on him. Jesus saved on the Cross but we have no share in this until we believe in him. That belief is a conscious act of our heart and will and is necessarily accompanied by a whole-of-life change. Jesus is now to be the one who we trust, the one who we follow and the one whom we serve.
Event, interpretation and response can be thought of as 3 steps on a ladder. Which step are you on? What do you need to do to move to the next level?
Many of us would say that we are on the third step, of faith. Good! Let’s be sure that we deepen that faith as we continue on with Jesus.