WHY DID CHRIST COME?
Being believers in Christ, we normally wish each other, "Have a Christ-centred New Year," meaning, "Let the peace, joy and the blessings of Christ be bestowed on you." What does "have a Christ-centred New Year" actually mean? What is the real purpose of His coming into the world? See what He says. He said, "I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division" (Lk.12:49-51). Note the three words in these verses, fire, baptism and division.
Fire symbolises certain things in the Bible. One of them is the judgment of God. "Then the Lord rained down burning sulphur on Sodom and Gommorah, from the Lord out of the heavens" (Isa.66:16). "For with fire and with the sword, the Lord will execute judgment upon all men, and many will be slain by the Lord" (2Thess. 1:7,8). "This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with His powerful angels. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord" (Gen.19:24). Jesus frequently spoke explicitly on the coming judgment. The Sermon on the Mount is replete with it (Matt. 5:22, 26,29). In His parable on the kingdom of God in Matthew 13, He clearly mentioned about Godís judgment. He says that those who reject Him will be judged severely (Matt. 10:15).
The epistles of Paul, Peter and John and the Book of Hebrews are equally explicit about the divine judgment. We read, "If we deliberately keep on sinning after we received the knowledge of truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and raging fire that will consume the enemies of God" (Heb.10:29). In His statements on the seven churches in Revelation, Christ warns in clear terms of judgment. In chapter 20, there is an account of the great white throne of judgment.
The judgment of God is not only futuristic, but also now. In Maryís song we read, "God has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, but has lifted up the humble." Dr. Billy Graham rightly says, "I believe, the troubles that have come upon us are in part a judgment of God on us for our sins, and so we must repent and turn to Him." Our problem is that we want Christ, but refuse to give up our sins; we do not want to have change in our behaviour; we pray for revival in our midst without repentance.
All will be judged. Godís judgement is inevitable and inescapable. Every human being whether dead or living is accountable to Him. The only way to escape from His wrath is to repent of our sins and to turn to Him. So when we wish each other, "Have a Christ-centred New Year," we actually say, "Be accountable to the righteous God and be in the attitude of repentance, and keep trusting Him so that your life will be fruitful."
Baptism means dipping or submerging. To be baptised is getting dipped or submerged. Here Jesus is saying of Himself getting submerged into terrible sufferings and turbulent ministry.
As He held fast to fulfil the purpose of His coming into the world, the opposition towards Jesus grew steadfastly worse. He was carefully scrutinised by His enemies. They tried every possible method and scheme to ridicule and humiliate Him; and to distract Him from His mission. His solemn warnings and penetrating teachings, and even His loving acts, were deliberately misinterpreted and inflamed by His enemies. The devil tempted Him by various options, convenience, sensationalism and compromise. But He consistently chose the way of the cross. The Apostle Paul describes this as follows: "He made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness, and having found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even the death on the cross" (Phil.2:7-8).
Why did He do it?
1. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds, because of your evil behaviour.
2. But God has reconciled you by Christís physical body through death (by making peace through His blood shed on the cross v.20).
3. To present you holy in His sight without blemish and free from accusation (Col.1:21-22). He went through it all to save us from the bondage of sin, to enable us to be in a right relationship with our heavenly Father and to be people of integrity, righteousness and redemptive love.
The Word of God challenges us, "Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps" (1Pet.1:21). We read, "But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed, when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you" (1Pet.4:13-14). Without suffering for the sake of Christ, without facing the consequences of being people of integrity, righteousness and justice and redemptive love in Him in all situations, you and I cannot experience His joy and take part in His glory.
So, when we wish each other, "Have a Christ-centred New Year," we actually mean, "See that you are always in a right relationship with your heavenly Father and are willing to suffer for the sake of your Saviour, and only then can you have a blessed New Year in Him."
Division and disturbance are the direct result of following Jesus. It is the consequence of being obedient to His will. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was the most blessed among the women. But she had to go through Ďsword-piercingí experiences in her life. When she and His brothers wanted to see Him, He said to the people around Him, "My mother and brothers are those who hear Godís Word and put it into practice." He makes it clear that the relationship with God supersedes all other relationships, even family relationship.
His very presence and teachings caused division and disturbance. We find the same thing in the ministry of the apostles, and scores of Godís people all over the world. But the division and disturbance caused by being devoted to Christ and His teachings are not destructive, but constructive. A young man from a traditional nominal Christian family surrendered his life to Christ and experienced spiritual transformation. As a result of it, he began to go through serious conflicts with his parentsí worldly values and principles. But he was steadfast in his convictions and held on to his uncompromising devotion to Christ. At the same time, he kept extending his love for his parents. Seeing his loyalty to Christ, and his love for them, the parents began to experience transformation in their own lives. A few years ago, I met a young person who shared with me that she belonged to a very staunch Hindu Brahmin family. One day she heard the Gospel message and gave her life to Christ. As a result, her people became hostile to her and she had to leave her home with a heavy heart. A few believers in Christ took care of her. She got married to a fine Christian, who himself was a convert from Hinduism. In spite of her peopleís hostility, she kept loving her people. She and her husband have now five lovely children, and her people have understood her new life in Christ and are in good terms. Following Christ means division and disturbance, but they are constructive. Before building us up, He uproots.
So, when we wish each other, "Have a Christ-centred New Year," we actually mean, "Following Christ will lead you to division and disturbance; but remember, it is constructive. He does it to fulfil the blessed purpose He has for you."