The arrival of a baby brings celebration. What a joy to hold a new-born baby! What promise for the future! What fascination with their development! What sleepless nights! All this and more surrounded the birth the son born to Joseph and Mary who they named Jesus.
The arrival of Jesus would have a highly dramatic impact. It is summed up by John in one of his letters to the early church. John talks about Christmas twice in just a few lines of his letter. He sets Jesus’ birth on the larger stage of history. It was Jesus’ appearing (epiphany) which is so important. He has two things to say.
John first begins with a reminder: ‘You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin’ (I john 3v5). Jesus came to make reconciliation with God a reality. We are born as rebels who are living as enemies of God and unresponsive to His love. Yet when Jesus laid down his love, for the sins of the world, he provided a new way of approach to God. The dire situation that existed required extreme measures at great cost to bring us back to God. The cross made this possible so that we can become children of God.
His second idea is also important: ‘The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil’ (I John 3v8). The works of the devil that Jesus came to destroy are the works of sin. Jesus is at work in his followers to draw us away from leading a lawless life and inspire us to live the new looking-more-like-Christ life. There is a divine discontent in the heart of every believer so that they want to grow in their own Christ-likeness. We increasingly see things the way He does and want to follow his ways rather than our own or those of the world.
May I encourage you to make 2021 count? Dedicate yourself to following Jesus more closely, to read the Bible each day and pray about what your read. To be following Jesus is the right response to the celebrations at the end of last year. His birth means we have life.