29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! – John 1:29 (NIV)
Imagine being born for the sole purpose of being a sacrifice. That was the situation Jesus was walking into. From the beginning, Jesus’ mission was clear; He was going to take away the sins of the world. This phrase ties all the way back to Genesis 22, where Abraham is called to sacrifice Isaac. At the end of the day, God stops Abraham just in time, providing him with a ram to sacrifice. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus in anguish over the coming of his suffering prays “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42) But with Jesus, there was no alternative. God was providing one last lamb for Israel (and now all of humanity). Jesus Christ was the final and perfect lamb sent to redeem each and every one of us. Jesus willingly surrendered to the will of the father in becoming that Lamb for sacrifice. At this time of advent take time to “behold” the coming of the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Weekly Challenge: On Christmas Eve, our passage is going to be Luke 2:1-20. We want to challenge you to read this passage with someone from the next generation. Whether this be one of your own children, a grandchild, or a niece/nephew. Pass the story of Christmas on to someone new this year! If you don’t have any little ones to meet or FaceTime with, share this story with someone new to the faith or who might not have a relationship with Jesus Christ!
Sunday, December 20th
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 (NIV)
Today we discussed where we truly find peace in the world. Many of us search for peace in our finances, our family, in our government. Ultimately, we may never find peace in these areas of life (or anywhere in the world). Jesus promises us that He will be the ultimate source of peace. Though this world may seem in constant chaos, we can be assured that Jesus Christ is still on His throne. If we rest in Him, we will be able to get that peace from Him no matter what comes at us.
9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. – Hebrews 4:9-11 (NIV)
In the Christmas season, it is easy to be busy running around buying gifts, visiting family, and checking out some incredible Christmas lights. At the end of the day, it is easy to lose sight of why we truly celebrate Christmas. How could this be? We are so busy celebrating through our traditions that we lose heart of the real “reason for the season.” Don’t get me wrong, I will be checking out awesome light shows, buying gifts for my family, and spending the day with loved ones, but let’s not forget the real reason we celebrate Christmas: Jesus. As a spiritual discipline of Sabbath Rest, take the day and try to do as little work as you can. This includes any “fun” activities for the day. Stay inside with your family and try to be present with God. Spend the day praying, reading Scripture, and resting in the presence of God. (if today is already a lost cause, resolve to take a day like this as soon as possible) Next week will likely be a big one, so take a day of rest… and remember to spend it with Jesus.
When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. – Matthew 2:10-11 (NIV)
The wise men worshipped Christ through bringing Him gifts fit for a king. Obviously, Christ did not need these gifts, though He was deserving of every single one of them. Few of us have gold, frankincense, or myrrh to give Christ, but what can you give Him? How can you be with Christ this season and the rest of your life? What talents and gifts do you have to devote to Christ and the Kingdom of God? Do you have spare time? Do you have a servant’s heart to pour into your church or a local ministry? Do you have a hobby you can somehow glorify God with?
“4 When the time came to completion, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” – Galatians 4:4-5 (NIV)
Christ has gone through all of the same struggles we as humans have gone through. He lost loved ones, was tempted by Satan, and faced unbelievable pain. This shows us that Christ has empathy for us. He knows what we have gone through, are going through, and will go through. Often times, I find myself trying to empathize with others by relating similar situations I have been in. This isn’t meant to “one up” or belittle someone else’s experiences (though it often comes across that way). It is an attempt to try to show that they are not alone through their pain and struggles. Christ takes that the next step. He chose to walk through those same struggles. He did so to pave a righteous path for us. He did so so that we might walk with Him through our struggles as He guides us to the Father.