Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Rest of the Story

Christmas is a special holiday for many people. For some it’s just another day off work. To others it is a time to get together with family and friends. But for many of us it is a time to reflect on what God had planned for his people long ago.

At the beginning of time, God created a garden in Eden.1 It was a paradise on earth designed for the first people created. His purpose was to have a perfect relationship with them. What an amazing thought that God would want to know us! But that’s the way it was. They had the distinct privilege of not only enjoying the garden but beginning a relationship with their Creator.

But then something happened that changed everything.2 Adam and Eve were faced with their first temptation to sin. Would they love and obey God or choose their own way? Sadly, they chose to rebel against this loving, personal God. And their decision affected all that have come after them. From that day forward, man’s relationship with God was broken and death and future judgment were certain.3

The years that followed were filled with man searching aimlessly for peace and happiness, but few found it because they were looking for it outside of God. In his perfect plan, God knew that man would never return to him unless he did something. And so he did. On that first Christmas day, God came to earth as a man—in the person of Jesus Christ.4 During his time with us, he explained God's ways to his own people and called on them to turn from their sins to God.

Sadly, most people were not interested in restoring their broken relationship with God. And despite his great love for them, the people convinced their leaders to have him executed. But even this was a part of God’s wonderful plan. God chose Jesus’ death on the cross to be the ultimate sacrifice—his way of paying for the sins of the world. Jesus took upon himself the penalty for all of our sins and became the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” 5

But death did not defeat the Son of God as three days later God raised him back to life. It sounds incredible and yet the Bible tells us that Jesus was seen by over 500 people before he eventually ascended into heaven. Even so, many people refused to believe him. But those who did believe received forgiveness of sins, a wonderful new life, and the promise of eternal life.6

As you can see, the story of Christmas is more than just the birth of a baby in a manger. And yet it is still very special because without him we would have no hope. My hope is that during this holiday season you will consider the real meaning of Christmas and ponder your own response to God's free gift through his Son.

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For more information, please consider the following Scripture passages:
1 Genesis 1-2
2 Genesis 3
3 Romans 5:12-21
4 Matthew 1:18-25
5 John 1:29
6 John 1:10-13

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