Before He could die for us, He had to be born for us. The hope of Christmas can be found in a manger in Bethlehem.
The peace and hope of Christmas can only be found in one place and that is in the person of Jesus Christ. He Himself (Eph. 2:14) is literally our peace because of His death, burial, and resurrection. He did what no one else could in dying on the cross and because of His shed blood on Calvary, He now can reconcile all those who believe to the Father.
The peace we now have with God is very real because it was obtained and purchased for us by a very real Savior. Notice in verses 19 and 20 of the first chapter of Colossians what it says about it.
For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. (Colossians 1:19-20 NASB)
All the fullness to dwell in Him. The fullness of what? Deity! Jesus Christ is the 2nd person of the Trinity. He is eternally God now adding human flesh to His Deity in the incarnation at the first Christmas. Before He could die for us, He had to be born for us. His birth was a miracle of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:30-35) and He was born of the Virgin Mary. It is because this fullness of Deity dwelt in the person of Jesus Christ that He was uniquely qualified as the only begotten of the Father to make atonement for sin and it is His payment for sin alone that can obtain peace with God for all those who believe.
It is Jesus Christ who makes peace for us with God through His blood! It is in Him that we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, as the context of the first chapter of Colossians brings to light. This first chapter of this epistle has very strongly put forth not only who Christ is but what He has done for us. What this ultimately means for us in light of the Christmas season is that on that first Christmas so many years ago, in Bethlehem, lying in that manger was the literal, eternal, full, and complete Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6).
We who are rebel sinners and enemies of God because of our own sin now can have eternal peace and right standing with the God of the universe because of what His one and only Son did on our behalf on the cross of Calvary. He literally made peace for us with God through the blood of His cross. In that manger on that first Christmas laid not just another baby, but our literal peace!
Let's consider what one of my favorite Old Testament prophecies says concerning this One who would be born in Bethlehem.
But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity. Therefore He will give them up until the time when she who is in labor has borne a child. Then the remainder of His brethren will return to the sons of Israel. And He will shepherd His flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD His God. And they will remain, because at that time He will be great to the ends of the earth. This One will be our peace. (Micah 5:2-5a NASB)
This One will be our peace. Jesus Christ is the peace between God and man. He is the literal peace of mankind. He is the peace of the entire universe! With all of the turmoil that we find in our world we can rest and find hope in knowing that one day still future, Jesus Christ will return to this earth, there will be judgment for sin, and He will establish His Kingdom of righteousness for all of eternity.
The passage stated that this One will arise and shepherd His flock in the strength of the Lord. Jesus Christ is currently doing that now by reigning and living in the hearts of His holy ones. He is the Great Shepherd and He is the head of the body, the church, just as the first chapter of Colossians points out in verse 18. Jesus Christ is the One who has come and has made peace for us. He is peace for us!
Not only is He our peace eternally but He is also what so many people seem to be lacking and that is - hope.
Jesus Christ is the peace of Christmas and He is also the hope of Christmas. This is what Christmas is truly all about. It includes presents, meals, family, trees, decorations, and other things but it is only actually about one thing, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus was born at a very hopeless time in Israel's history. They had been through Babylonian captivity, they were now under Roman rule, and they had all but given up hope that their promised Messiah would ever come to redeem them. We live in a day and age in 2017 that could be characterized by hopelessness as well. It seems that every year the statistics on depression and anxiety grow and grow.
This hopelessness crosses all lines - rich to poor, black to white, young to old. This is one area where the church at large has failed miserably. It has failed to address this issue of mental health in a healthy and loving way that helps people, rather than push them away or ostracize them. We need to be leading the charge to provide help in this area up to and including recommending qualified, trained professionals who can diagnose and provide medication for those who have issues in the key areas of mental health.
The reason this is so vitally important is that when a person reaches a state of hopelessness it is very unlikely they can just "suck it up," or "check out of it," and just move on. They often need counseling, a loving spirit from a strong support system, and in some cases medication. This is not a weakness and it is not evidence of a "lack of faith." Rather, it is just simply recognizing that this is a very real issue. Taking advantage of professional help or medication is not a refutation of the power of God but a recognition of that power. God uses good doctors and the medicines that we have to help His people. This includes biblical counseling, prayer, and a desire to cling to and trust God, yes, but it also involves practical, real-life ways to combat these issues of depression, anxiety, stress, etc.
The questions to be asked is this: Where can I find the cure for my hopelessness? What foundation do I base all of my decisions on when attempting to combat these things that attack my spirit and my mental health? What is the starting point for peace and hope in my life in these areas?
The answer is found in the same person that has made peace for us eternally with the Father. Not only is Christ our Savior from sin but He is the very power that can lift us out of hopelessness. It may take doctors, counselors, or even medicine but the foundational power that we need more than anything else is the power of God in Jesus Christ His Son.
So many people will tell you to hold on, keep fighting and look for the hope that is coming. While it is true that one must keep fighting and working every day to grow spiritually and otherwise, the hope that we need is not future but is already here. Hope has already come!
I am not telling you about a hope that is still yet to come. I am not telling you about a hope that we must still wait for. No, I am telling you of a hope that has already come! Jesus Christ is that hope! Jesus Christ is the hope of a lost, broken, and fallen world. Hope and peace is already here in the person of Jesus Christ!
Look with me at what the gospel of Matthew records concerning who Christ is in reference to hope.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.
Immanuel! God with us! This is the basis for our hope in Christ in that in Jesus Christ we have the eternal God of the universe dwelling among us. God didn't leave us to fend for ourselves. He didn't leave us hopeless. The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14)! God is with us every day of our lives. We can rest not only in the peace that Christ's cross brings to us but we can also rest in the hope that His resurrection brings us. We can trust God because He died for us. We can trust God in those times when we struggle because He knows our infirmities and He knows what it is like to be human just like us!
1 Peter 1:3 says that we have a "living hope" in Jesus Christ. We don't serve a dead God but a living one! We all as Christians have unity in Jesus Christ. This means that the foundational power that we need to live this life is found by all Christians in the same person.
Every person's life circumstances are different and unique. We all face unique challenges which will require different tools and support but we all have the same power of God living inside of us! We have a living hope!
So, if you need to know where hope is today, look in the manger.
If you need to know where peace is today, look in the manger.
If you need hope for a troubled life, look in the manger.
If you need hope for a troubled marriage, look in the manger.
If you need hope for your children, look in the manger.
If you need hope to fight depression or anxiety, look in the manger and pray and ask Christ to guide you to where you need to go to find the help you need.
The answer to all of life's hurts and questions and worries can all be found in the same manger bed because it is in that manger where you find the Lord Jesus Christ! The Immanuel! The Prince of Peace! The Son of God! The baby that would grow up and shed His blood on Calvary's tree so that we can have peace with God and hope for tomorrow and today!
Yes, God is with us! Yes, Jesus Christ is the very peace and hope of Christmas! Trust God. Cling to Him when life is hard and know that if you are hurting if you are struggling with some area in your life, I am here for you as well. I am always honored when God uses me to help someone who is hurting or lacking in hope.
Reach out to me if you need help and let me help you see how you can rely on and trust in the power of Christ and the peace and hope of Christmas!