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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Born to Die

It’s often said that we all have some purpose in life, something we were “born for.” Some seem to find their clear-cut purpose and pursue it’s fulfillment with great vigor and enthusiasm. Many are still searching, and sadly, some seem to go through life floundering about with no sense or purpose whatsoever. There is one thing that each and every one of us was born to do, but all too many don’t, and that is simply to worship God. There are all kinds of excuses thrown around, like “I tried religion and it’s not for me,” or “it’s all a myth,” or just simply choosing not to believe. Even believers make excuses when they backslide, don’t try to live a Godly lifestyle, or take a contrary view on something God is very clear about. I’ve been just as guilty as the next person. We try to rationalize things in our humanness, but worshipping God is a spiritual act, not a humanly one. If we are to fulfill our purpose of worshipping God, then we must surrender our will to God and seek to please Him instead of, or in spite of, ourselves. This is the essence of Romans 12:1-2.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. – Romans 12:1-2

Every December we celebrate the birth of Jesus, but do we stop to reflect on what His purpose was, what He was “born to do?” We’ve fashioned some hallmark-esque feel-good image of the Nativity with a neat little manger bed, shepherds watching in wonder, angels singing, and the Three Wise Men bringing gifts, though they really didn’t show up until Jesus was already two or three years old. The reality is that Jesus was born in a barn, basically. He was born in a nasty, smelly place where the animals were housed and fed. His bed was a manger, which is an animal feeding trough. I’m sure that was a real clean, sterile place to put a newborn baby. The King of Kings left His throne and came to dwell among us, arriving is such a lowly manner, born for one purpose. He was born to die. Jesus, being God With Us, knew this was his mission and told his disciples so.

But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor. “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” - John 12:23-28

Though Jesus is fully God, He was fully human, as well. Sometimes we may feel overwhelmed by the pressures of work deadlines, meeting our family’s needs, or fulfilling our ministerial commitments. How often do we say something like, “I’m only human and I can only do so much?” Jesus quite literally had the weight of the world on Him. In His humanness He felt every emotion, endured every pain, and dealt with the ups and downs of life just as we do. He was even tempted just as we are, but the difference is that He didn’t sin. Can you even begin to imagine the incredible pressure He was under knowing the physical torture that would be inflicted on Him, the intense public humiliation He would have to endure, and the agonizing death He was destined to suffer? Can you imagine having the spiritual fate of all humanity resting on your shoulders? Yes, Jesus the God-man felt the pressure, as evidenced by the events that transpired in the Garden of Gethsemane before His arrest. He was literally sweating blood as He prayed. He knew it was the Father’s plan from before the foundation of the world. He loves us so much that He gave over His human will to the Father’s will, and endured it all to be our atonement to bring us back into right standing with God, and all He wants us to do is trust Him, that He did everything that was necessary because there is nothing we could ever do ourselves to bridge the gap between man and God.

And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw,
and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will,
take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”
- Luke 22:41-42

As we celebrate this Christmas season, let’s not be distracted by all the shopping, decorations, food, family, travel, and all the stuff that comes with this time of year. Be sure to keep Christ in Christmas, as the old cliché goes. Remember that the King came into the world in a very lowly way as a Servant to all, as we should be servants to each other, as well. Remember that this innocent little child whose birth we celebrate, was God’s perfect, innocent lamb, born to die for you.
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