Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Greatest Gift

This is the fourth installment in a Christmas series that seeks to know the reason Christmas was necessary.  It began with creation, and how God made everything, including man and woman just as it should have been.  “Very good” were His words.

Adam and Eve were given complete freedom in a Garden that provided them everything they would ever need.  Their one and only restriction was to avoid eating the fruit from a single tree.  It was a test designed to give them daily opportunity to prove their love and trust in their Creator Father.  There was no need to eat that fruit.  But the perfection of everything God had provided them proved in their minds to be not quite enough.

Eventually the temptation overcame Eve, who then broke down Adam’s resistance as well to the forbidden fruit.  Created in the image of God and without a nature to sin they chose by that one act to disobey and rebel.  Immediately their spirits’ fellowship with God was broken, and that broken spiritual life was then passed on to all their descendants.  What God had created, including the earth, as “very good” suddenly in a moment was corrupted and dead.

Adam and Eve tried to cover up their newly discovered nakedness with fig leaves.  But, apart from the life of the tree from which they were plucked, the fig leaves at best could only give temporary covering.  And really, their attempts to hide their sin from God were silly.  Ever since men have come up with new ways to make themselves acceptable to God.  However, none have removed the taint of human depravity.

But, God had a plan.  The Scripture tells us that even before the foundations of the earth were created God knew how to fix broken people.  After all, He created us.  His plan was simple, yet so difficult, both for Him.  In fact, His plan would prove to be offensive to humanity because we like to think we can fix ourselves.  We cannot, but God can.

Throughout the Old Testament God promised the One who would provide us the way back to a relationship with Him.  He’s called by many names and given many titles in the prophecies.  So many of the stories of God’s deliverance to Israel were to point them to His plan for all of mankind.  The Law He gave to them through Moses was not designed to remove their sin, but to make it clear that they had sinned.

Through the prophets He foretold of Bethlehem, a Messiah, Emmanuel, the virgin birth, a descendant of David…so many details were given of the future Savior to let them know all was not lost.

Then when the time was right (Galatians 4:4) God came in human form to become the second Adam.  He would be born into poverty, not in a palace, and would live life, with all of its temptations (Hebrews 4:15) never sin.  Like Adam, He was born with no innate nature to sin, because like Adam He had no human father.  But unlike Adam He would show God’s intent from creation. 

More importantly, because of His unique sinlessness, He alone qualified to pay the penalty for Adam’s (and ours by inheritance) sin.  As our substitute He would be crucified, the sinless for the sinful so that we might again have a relationship with the God who created and loves us.  That baby in the manger was far more than a wonderful story.  The angels announced His birth to the shepherds that night because this was the long-awaited answer to the ultimate need of every heart.

Most amazing aspect of God’s plan is that the salvation from sin that Jesus came to provide is offered freely to all who believe in Him.  Indeed, the Christ of Christmas is the greatest gift ever given.

No comments: