December 24

Born to Die

Luke 24:25-27 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

Isaiah 50:6 I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.

Isaiah 52:14 Just as many were astonished at you, so His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men;

Isaiah 53:3-5 He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief….He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

The passages above are usually reserved for the week before Easter. They’re not generally thought of around our celebration of the birth of Jesus. They should be. This is why he came in the first place. He was born to die.

The travelers to Emmaus (Luke, above) knew the scriptures, yet they didn’t even recognize the Son of God among them. In their spiritual denseness, they needed to have it shown to them that Messiah was never going to come like a new version of King David, nor was He going to be the political/military savior that would throw off the yoke of the Roman Empire. We don’t know which passages Jesus referred to, but starting from the first Messianic prophecy in Genesis 3:15, it should have been obvious to those with spiritual eyes that the coming Anointed One was going to suffer greatly.

Even the most “Christmassy” of scriptures around His birth have this dark shadow around them. In the first chapter of Matthew, for example, an angel spoke to Joseph in a dream: “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins” (v. 21). The history of Israel made it clear that there was no salvation from sin and its judgments apart from the shedding of blood. This child was born to be THE sacrifice for sins, the one that so many prophecies and the entire sacrificial system had been pointing to all these years.

Three times in Mark (chapters 8, 9 and 10), Jesus tried to get his disciples to understand that He would be rejected by the religious leaders, suffer many things, and be killed. Yet it still came as a shock to most of them. In thinking of His birth, we need to rejoice not only that He came, but why He came. He came to die. For us. To meet our greatest need—forgiveness. Because He loved us.
The images of Christmas contain the usual—the animals, shepherd and angelic announcements. As we look in the background of these idyllic scenes, however, those with spiritual eyes will see something else in the background—the cross.

Prayer: Father, help me to rejoice fully in the birth of Jesus. As I enjoy family, friends, and fellowship, let me find my deepest joy in the knowledge that Your love and Your desire to knock down the barrier of sin in us was the reason that You sent Your Son. Thank You for His coming, and for His whole life, death and resurrection.

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