William G. Brescia, CT
And the angel said unto them, fear not: for, behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour which is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:10,11).
This Saviour has come and gone from our world nearly 2000 years ago. Much more than a seasonal story, His coming divides the timeline of history and affects every individual in our world today and every soul that has ever lived. The angel announced that this Saviour would be "to all people," reaching beyond the people of Israel to all the nations beginning at Jerusalem and spreading across the globe. Yet, while He came to all, not all have come to Him. Consider for a moment who He was and why He came, and in so doing if you do not already know Him as your Saviour you might find Him for yourself. As one has well said, 'wise men ... still seek him."
Who was He?
What difference would He have made if after all, He were just another good man who lived and died? None! When we consider that this Saviour was none other than God's eternal Son from heaven, however, we must take a closer look. The Holy Bible tells us in the prophecy of Isaiah (ch. 9: vs. 6) that not only would He be "a child born," but also "a son given." Isaiah follows this by saying, "the government shall be upon his shoulder and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government there shall be no end." This points us forward to a future day when this One who came the first time as Saviour will come again to set all that is wrong right and to establish a never-ending kingdom. This is the same one whom we see laid in the manger in Bethlehem.
The apostle John writes in his gospel that, "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son." The angel who appeared to the virgin Mary said, "that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). The prophets of old foretold many things concerning this Son, including: the manner of his coming, "The virgin shall conceive" (Isaiah 7:14); the place of his birth, 'Bethlehem of Judea" (Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:5); the city in which he would live, "he shall be called a Nazarene" (Matthew 2:23); and the manner of his death, "they pierced my hands and my feet" (Psalms 22:16), prophesied some 700 years before the Romans ever conceived of death by crucifixion. These are just some of the many references we find in the word of God concerning God's eternal plan to send his Son into the world. "The Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world" (1 John 4:14).
The apostle Peter and a few of the other disciples out on the Sea of Galilee one day watched as the Lord, with just a word, calmed the raging storm that threatened their little boat, causing them to exclaim "what manner of man is this that even the winds and the sea obey him?" (Matthew 8:27). The Bible tells us that, "all things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made' (John 1:3). This, my friend, is the One who came to save us, the maker of worlds, the mighty creator, the eternal word from heaven. A Roman centurion presiding over the crucifixion, heard His words, saw the sun darkened, felt the earth quake, and exclaimed "truly this man was the Son of God" (Mark 15:39).
Why did He come?
In the simple words of 1 Timothy 1: 15, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" excluding none for "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Why an from what, dear friend, do we need to be saved? The Lord Jesus spoke of the possibility of men and women being separated from God forever when he said, "If you die in your sins where I am you cannot come" (John 8:21), leaving the soul no hope of heaven and eternal life but "a fearful looking for of judgment" (Hebrews 10:27). Is this where God leaves us? No, the coming of the Lord Jesus into the world was only the beginning of God's plans. The cross at Calvary would be the place where God "would make HIS soul an offering for our sins" (Isaiah 53: 10) and by the death of the sinless Son of God at that place, God could forgive any and all who trust alone in the finished work of Christ. The great apostle Peter said, 'Neither is there salvation in any other for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved' (Acts 4:12). Again, in 1 Peter 2:24 he said "who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree." And our Lord Jesus himself gave a simple promise when He said "he that believeth on me hath everlasting life." The apostle John summed up the gospel message in one verse: "These things are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that believing ye might HAVE life through his name" (John 20:3 I). The eternal years ahead of each one of us demand that we be honest with ourselves and with God. Do I know for sure that my sins have been forgiven and that heaven is my future home? It is possible, dear friend to have the assurance of both in this life (Acts 13:38; John 14:1-3). I need not pay, or work my way to heaven or hope for the best when life is done, for the apostle Paul tells us clearly, "for by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2: 8,9). The soul that realizes the purpose of His coming and His death can say like Paul, "the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20). There is sweet rest in this world and the next in knowing that the One who came and died and rose again from the dead did so that I might have eternal life, forgiveness of sins and a eternal home in heaven. Do you know him?
Where is He now?
We worship today a living Saviour. His resurrection from the dead is one of the most reliable historical facts ever, as He was seen by more than 500 eyewitnesses at one time and appeared to many before ascending back to heaven from the roadside near Jerusalem (Luke 24:15). He remains to this hour seated at the right hand of God (Hebrews 1:3), "alive for evermore" (Revelation 1: 18). He lives in heaven, a Saviour for those who trust Him, but a future judge for those who pass by the manger and the cross and enter eternity without knowing the blessed Man of Calvary, the lover of our souls: Our Lord Jesus Christ. The world at this time of year sings many beautiful hymns such as this without ever knowing or in many cases caring about the blessed Saviour of whom they speak.
Oh little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
But in thy dark streets shineth,
The Everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years,
Are met in thee tonight.