When I was 17 years old, my father, who was a pastor, fell into adultery, left our home and his ministry, and remarried. It was very painful for my entire family. Though I have spoken of this a few times in GH15 posts, I didn’t say much about it publicly until he went to heaven; I didn’t want to embarrass or uncover him. Dad repented a few years after his fall, and was wonderfully restored to the Lord. We had a great relationship for the final 30 years of his life.
Several years ago, he wrote a wonderful devotional entitled The Gold That Washed Ashore (now out of print). In the book, I contributed a short quote from one of my books for each day. Dad was old school in his sermonizing, building masterpieces of homiletic eloquence. Each day this week, I’ll read one of his great devotionals, and then augment it with something from my writings. After Friday’s reading entitled The Nails of Calvary, we’ll take communion together.
These devotionals are more traditional in size, and a little shorter than our normal Give Him 15 posts. This week, you may be Giving Him 10 - but they’re incredibly poignant, and our prayers of agreement will release great power. The title of today’s devotional is:
“For today in the city of David, there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11 NASB)
“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10 NASB)
“From Genesis to Revelation, there is a great scarlet thread of truth calling our attention to a coming Redeemer. This hope of a coming Redeemer was the secret of Abel offering a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. It was the only light that gleamed in the ark as it rolled over the waves of an ocean world. This hope guided the patriarchs and gladdened the prophets.”
And yet, when Christ came to earth, it was not as most expected. The religious world had overlooked the prophecy regarding a virgin conceiving (Isaiah 7:14); perhaps they simply had a different interpretation of the verse, since what it said was a total impossibility. At any rate, the birth of Christ through a poor, teenage virgin - from the other side of the tracks, Nazareth, of all places - wasn’t on the list of Messianic expectations. Nor was a manger (a feeding trough) for a crib, in a smelly, dung-filled stable. The scribes, Pharisees, and religious elite were confident the Messiah would be regal, wealthy, and come from their ranks, of course.
Something about God becoming a microscopic seed placed in the womb of a teenage girl, fed by a cord from her placenta, and entering the world through a narrow birth canal is a bit unsettling, if not unbelievable. We prefer sterile surroundings, and heavenly, serene depictions of baby Jesus. It seems almost sacrilegious to mention dirty diapers, burps and cries for Mama. The One who walked on water could never have fallen when learning to walk; He who fed the 5000 would not have smeared food all over His face when learning to feed Himself. He was, after all, God.
But to keep Christ from being truly human is to miss God’s heart and message. Our Lord’s most common name for Himself was Son of Man. He chose to experience our humanness, feel our pain and hunger, wrestle with the wound of rejection, and know the disappointment of loss. His calloused hands knew hard work, His feet walked hundreds of miles, and He slept many nights on the ground. Jesus had to be human in order to bleed, die, and redeem us, and He became such in every sense of the word. Let Him into the muck and mire of our world.
But He didn’t remain a baby in Bethlehem’s manger. He was born to be the Savior. In his devotional, Dad masterfully describes Christ’s ministry:
“He came - and was a great preacher. All the preachers of the centuries look small when we line them alongside the Man whose hands were calloused by a carpenter's plane and who wore the peasant smock of Galilee. He came - and was the greatest physician the world has ever seen. He was the world's sympathetic friend in a world of pain. He came - and was the perfect example.
“Yet, He came to be more than a great preacher, physician, or pattern. He came to be our Savior. He came to deal with the thing that drenched the world with blood, that bleached it with bones, and that filled the air with moans and groans. He came to put a bridge over the gulf that separates humanity from God. He came to shut the very jaws of damnation and throw open the gates of gold. He came to fix us so we could appear as if the archer of hell never shot us through.
“All the sins of all His people were gathered upon His shoulders. The heart of Christ became like a reservoir in the mountains, and all the tributary streams of iniquity ran down and gathered into that vast lake. Sin wrote its vicious history with the scourge, thorns, nails, spear, and throbbing agony - our sins, yours and mine. At Calvary, we see the wrath of God against sin inscribed in characters of blood, and we see sin's absolution: ‘Father, forgive them’ (Luke 23:34).
Oh, Now I See the Crimson Wave
“‘Oh, now I see the crimson wave, the fountain deep and wide;
Jesus, my Lord, mighty to save, points to His wounded side.
‘I see the new creation rise,
I hear the speaking blood;
It speaks! Polluted nature dies! Sinks 'neath the cleansing flood.
‘The cleansing stream I see, I see! I plunge and, oh, it cleanseth me!
Oh, praise the Lord, it cleanseth me! It cleanseth me, yes, cleanseth me!’ (1)
“Thank You, Jesus, for coming, seeking, and saving.”
Pray with me:
Father, we thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, as Heaven’s great gift. Thank You for the incarnation, Christ’s humble birth, and His substitutionary death. Thank You for the cleansing stream that flows from Him still.
Jesus, You came. As we celebrate Your birth, we thank You for the humbling journey You made…for the sacrifices, the miles, the sleepless nights, and the tears. Thank You for the blood You shed, the stripes You bore, the crown, the nails, and the spear.
Holy Spirit, as many gather today with family and friends, remind all to celebrate the Prince of Peace as He should be celebrated, and love Him as He should be loved. Amen.
We decree that He came, and the cleansing stream of Christ still flows today.
Again, have a great Christmas celebrating Him!
Click on the link below to watch the full video.