When I ponder the celebration of the sacrifice of Christ, thoughts drift forward a few months to an April weekend where we commemorate His death and resurrection. Yet, in my years of study, I came across an intriguing passage which highlights the significance of Christmas. II Corinthians 8:9, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” In the context, Paul encourages the Corinthians to give liberally to a collection for the impoverished church of Jerusalem. In the process of Paul’s pleading, he cites the grand example of sacrificial giving, the incarnation.
A few years ago, the co-founder of Intel donated $600 million to the California Institute of Technology. Such a sacrifice made many newspapers and magazines as it was the largest educational endowment in history. Still, Gordon Moore only donated a fraction of his wealth. Contrast such a sacrifice with Jesus who parted with all.
From eternity past Christ owned and enjoyed the infinite riches of heaven. The second person of the Trinity, who possessed all authority, power, and majesty, forsook such privilege when he left his heavenly abode and became a fertilized egg. He emptied himself, and made himself a lowly slave for our sake so that He might one day be murdered by the very people He came to save.
But why did Jesus go through all of this trouble? One Christmas carol explains, “Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.” In other words, Christ came to bring peace to a world that was at war with God. All of us have at some point in time have rejected the King of Kings as our king, and chose to live our own way apart from Him.
Whether you realize it or not, you have sinned and rebelled against your Creator and King—indeed, the Bible makes it very clear that “ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”. With every white lie, angry thought, or selfish action we violate God’s perfect law and sin against Him. Because He is perfect and just, God must punish these sins, and the Bible tells us that “the wages of sin is death.”
However, because He loves you, God sent His only Son, Jesus, to be punished in your place. Instead of you paying for your sin in Hell, Jesus, the only sinless man ever to live, endured hell on earth for you, being brutally murdered by His own people and enduring the wrath of God. Three days later, God raised Him from the dead, demonstrating that Jesus’ death was sufficient and complete payment for sins. As a result Jesus – the Prince of Peace – offers you peace with God.
This gift and many more are available to you if you believe in Christ, seek God’s forgiveness for your sins, and turn away from them in order to commit your life to following Christ.
So as you’re exchanging gifts this Christmas, consider the great gift which Jesus came to earth to give: peace with God, a second birth, and eternal life.