For those of you with kids that are a little bit older than mine, maybe you have added in the part about the cross. After all, the baby ultimately became a man who, ultimately, died on the cross for the sins of the world. That is the whole point of the baby in the manger after all.
As Christian adults, many of us have been celebrating the Christmas season for years and years. I'm not saying this happens to everyone or that it happens every year, but it is easy to miss the real reason for Christmas. Sure, we know it in our heads, but sometimes the real joy and peace of it all is pushed out of our hearts for whatever the reason. I mean, we all know that Christmas is a BUSY time of year. And, even if we don't want the busyness, we want to give our children as many good Christmas memories as we can. It is easy to forget to stop and think about what Christmas means to us as adults.
This year, I have been privileged to study the book of Revelation in Bible Study Fellowship. The detail in which I have been able to study this last book of the Bible is really neat. I have noticed that the verses are really sticking with me. Cool, but how does that relate to Christmas? Well, let's go back to the beginning of Jesus' life on earth.
First, what was Jesus as a baby like? We know this description well. Mary wrapped the little baby in swaddling clothes and placed Him in a manger filled with hay. Not necessarily your typical delivery scenario, even for those times, but definitely not a kingly birth.
What about Jesus, the man? Isaiah 53:2 describes him like this: "There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance. nothing to attract us to him." He was an average looking man. His godliness was unknown or unperceived by his own brothers and by the people of his own town.
His disciples knew the true Him and believed in Him. John, one of Jesus' main disciples, wrote Revelation. In Jesus' ministry, Peter, James and John seemed to be the three privileged disciples that got to experience a little bit extra of Jesus. John is referred to as "the disciple Jesus loved" in his own book. And, those three got to see Jesus transfigured on a mountain top (Matthew 17). Ok, so what I'm getting at here is that John knew Jesus well. He was loved deeply by Him and had even been allowed to see a little bit of Jesus-as-God revealed as he was transformed a little bit into His heavenly glory on that mountain.
These disciples saw Him as he died, too. The image of Jesus on the cross is one that most Christians can picture easily in their minds. It is, after all, the whole point of Christianity. To be saved, to be a Christian, or Christ-follower, one must believe in Jesus' work on the cross.
These descriptions of Jesus are the descriptions that I had been pondering all my life. At Christmas I would think of the little baby in the manger. At Easter, I would think of Jesus on the cross. In between times, I remembered the work Jesus accomplished during his ministry on earth, the actions and miracles he completed that revealed his character and his love and his message.
Now to Revelation. It was mind-blowing for this traditional Church girl, ya'll. John, writing Revelation, tells of a vision he had of Jesus. This was not Jesus the baby, Jesus the man, or Jesus on the cross. And remember, John knew Jesus. He knew him very well. This, my friends, was the real Jesus. The Son of God. The Jesus of Heaven, The one who created the earth and everything in it. The Jesus, our King.
"And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance" (Revelation 1:12-16).This description is anything but ordinary or average! This picture of Jesus is a grab-your-attention and hold-your-gaze-forever kind of picture. Now, I could get into all of the symbolism here (thanks to BSF!) but that is not what I want us all to focus on. I want to focus on John's reaction to this Jesus.
"When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead" (Revelation 1:17).That is what John, the disciple Jesus loved and knew, did when he saw this Jesus. The true Jesus. Can you imagine seeing this Jesus? We can relate to a baby in a manger. We can relate to an average looking man. Thanks to movies and paintings, we can even relate to a man on a cross.
But this Jesus, Jesus the King, can you even imagine? John couldn't. He fell down as if he were dead. He was completely overwhelmed by this Jesus of Heaven. This vision of Jesus was more than he could behold.
Friends, it is this picture of Jesus that I want us all to imagine and cling to this Christmas season. For I have found that when I picture this majestic, brilliant Jesus of Heaven, the true Son of God, it makes me love that little baby in a manger even more. It makes me experience Christmas in a whole new way.
The sacrifice was huge. Jesus left a place that we cannot even begin to imagine. John could hardly describe it in words. It left a huge impression on him. It left a huge impression on me. Let it make a huge impression on you too.
Because of the picture of Jesus, the words Paul wrote in Philippians 2 take on a whole new weight. Picture the Revelation Jesus as you read these next verses.
"Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position as a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal's death on a cross" (Philippians 2:6-8).Jesus left the majesty of Heaven and abandoned all of the privileges of God to become our Savior. God sent Him, and He willingly came. What a love! What a Savior! What a Christmas Baby King!
Here's an awesome song that I just learned for church worship team. It totally goes along with this Jesus! "Savior of the World" by Ben Cantelone
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