Silent Night! Holy Night!
7 Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:7-11)
Isaiah told us a child would be born for us. 700 years before his birth. Isaiah told us that he would be called Immanuel or God with Us. This child was Jesus. He was fully God, but humbled himself to enter humanity to rescue us. He gave his life for us — voluntarily (John 10:18). So God exalted him to the highest place, giving him the highest honor, glory and majesty. Paul tells us that, before Jesus, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that he is Lord.
Why would Jesus do such a thing? Why would he empty himself of all his God-ness? Why would he take on all the limitations of humanity? Why would Jesus — God — die? Because he loves you.
As Jesus tried to explain his heart in terms that his disciples could understand, he uses the motif of a shepherd (read John 10). In the midst of this passage, he summarizes what Satan has done to the crown of God’s creation — humanity.
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
God loves you so much that he would give his Son — Jesus — in exchange for you. God created man to be his image in Creation. In his rage against God, Satan went after what God treasured most — his image bearers. Satan is both blatant and insidious. If he can’t take a person out with a direct attack, he’ll slowly whittle away at your life through worldliness and temptation. But make no mistake: he’s going to target you. So did Jesus. Jesus came to give his life for you. Jesus heart is that you would be free from the frontal attacks and crafty whispers that tear you apart from the inside out. He came that you would return to what God created you to be — the powerful and perfect image bearers he designed in the first place. Jesus came to give you your abundant life back.
Who is Jesus to you? Is he a character in a story? Is he a “good teacher” giving moral imperatives to follow? Is he some historical figure? Or is he your personal Savior, your rescuer? Have you surrendered to him as Lord, your master? Have you accepted his grace, his undeserved love and favor? It is yours if you will take it. The whole Christmas story — spanning thousands of years when you consider the prophecies — is about God’s invasion of humanity to rescue humanity. It is for your sake.
For today, evaluate your relationship with this Jesus. Who is Jesus to you? And if you want to go deeper with him, the folks of Palmwood Church would love to talk with you about that. Seriously.