Today Bob shares a Christmas reflection on behalf of The Junia Project team.
A few weeks ago, my wife and I visited a local farm. We were in the stable when something extraordinary happened. Suddenly, all of the animals in the barn became still and quiet. My wife and I both experienced a profound sense of God’s peace and presence. It was impressed upon both of us that we were looking at a setting similar to the humble beginnings of our Saviour’s life on earth.
Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, was born to us in a stable, and laid in an animal’s feed trough. His parents were not able to find accommodations at the local Inn. Why did he come? To die for the sins of the world, to be a light in a dark place, and to show us the love of God “in the flesh.”
What did the love of God look like?
Some passages in the New Testament highlight this for us:
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. (NIV translation)
We see a similar picture of Jesus’ love in Mark 10:42-45
42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (NIV translation)
The Apostle Paul describes Jesus’ love in Philippians 2:5-8
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
In all of these passages, there is a recurring theme. Love does not seek to impose its will on others. Love genuinely cares for the well-being of others, and sets an example of sacrificial service.
Jesus’ love had a purpose. He came to set us free from the power and the guilt of sinful habits: “Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin”(Acts 13:39, NIV).
This is the “good news” that people call “the gospel.” This is what we celebrate at Christmas.
This Christmas, may we all know and believe in the Saviour’s love. May we accept the love and forgiveness he made available on the cross when he died for the sins of the world. May we choose, with the help of God’s Spirit, to follow his example of sacrificial love in the way we treat one another. May we celebrate Christmas in our hearts all through the year, and throughout the rest of our lives.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
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