GOOD TIDINGS OF GREAT JOY
C. N. Bhalerao
Christmas is an occasion to celebrate the greatest event of human history the miracle birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christmas season resonates with the one celestial name Christ Jesus and the one joyous message good tidings of great joy heralding the personal arrival of the Almighty Creator into His creation, the Eternal God entering our world of time and space. It reminds us of the wonderful story of the unsurpassable love of God that led Him to send His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Christ not only brought the message of love, compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, humility, peace and goodwill but also demonstrated that message through his character, life and work. He came into the world as God's sacrificial offering for our disobedience and sin, to save us from eternal death that we might 'live' through Him.
Christ God's Word
According to the Scripture, Christ is the visible manifestation of the 'Word of God', the 'logos', the mind of God and 'the visible image of the invisible God'. He was also called 'the Son of God', 'the Lamb of God slain from the foundations of the world', 'the Alpha and Omega' and One by whom, through whom and for whom the universe and life were created and are held together.
Christ was the visible manifestation of God to man so that he could know what God is like in mind, heart and being. He chose to reveal Himself to mankind through His only begotten Son, Jesus. While the Bible is the written 'word of God', Christ is the human, personal 'Word of God' (Jn.1:14).
Christ The Truth And The Life
Over many centuries, human philosophy has sought to find answers to creation and the meaning of life. What is the ultimate truth behind what Plato called the world of 'shadows'? Are the universe and man self-created, and self-operating? Do they have any meaning or purpose? Is there life after death or does it end in eternal darkness? Throughout the past three thousand years or so human reason has not been able to find answers to such questions. Over against human speculation, the Sovereign God has chosen to reveal truth, not to man's reason but to his faith, through His unique book, the Bible, and through the visible expression of His Son, Jesus.
Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life" (Jn.14:6). "Thy (Holy) Spirit is truth" (1Jn.5:6). Jesus told Pontius Pilate that His very object was "to witness to the truth" (Jn.18:37). He further said, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die" (Jn.11:25,26), and "Because I live, ye will live also" (Jn.14:19).
Jesus not only taught the truth but was the very embodiment of truth. He demonstrated it through His complete obedience to God even from the cross and living a life of righteousness and moral perfection. As William Barclay says, "The tremendous thing about Jesus is not simply that His preaching reached its highest peak of moral perfection; it is that the fact of moral perfection finds its realisation in Him."
Christ The Rock
The Scripture speaks of Jesus Christ as 'the supreme Head of the church' and its only foundation. St. Paul writes, "For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1Cor.3:11). This is also confirmed by Peter in 1 Peter 2:6. "Therefore, it is also contained in the Scripture, 'Behold I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious.'" It is not a church, creed, denomination, ordinance or ceremony but Jesus Christ Himself who is the foundation of the Christian faith and life-and nothing else and no one else.
How many churches and Christian organisations can confidently claim that their only Lord and foundation is Jesus Christ? Many of them only give lip service to Him and, more often than not, they succumb to Satan's lure of power, wealth and personal glory! The increasing scandals, politics and corrupt practices in many of them speak volumes for the false gods they worship, having displaced the true foundation, Christ the rock Christ's stricture against the scribes and the Pharisees, "You have converted the temple of God into a den of thieves," is as relevant today as it was in the first century.
Christ Our Salvation
Through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, God offers His own, divine life. This life, or salvation, is available to every person who accepts Jesus Christ by faith as his Lord and Saviour and yields to Him in full obedience. Salvation cannot be earned by our efforts, not even by our good works. One simply has to receive in faith God's gracious offer of salvation as a free gift (Eph.2:1-9).
Believers have a foretaste of 'salvation' in this very world. In the present life, we also need to be saved from ourselves, our sins, guilt, temptations, fears, bad habits and prejudices which bind us. Jesus Christ, our salvation, sets us free from every evil and gives us the power to walk in righteousness.
Christ The Judge
If there is a law-giver and man has been endowed with the faculty of reason, conscience and will, then it follows that there will be a judge who will call to account the life, work and deeds (even the thoughts and words) of every person. The Scripture says that there is to be a day of God's final judgment. Christ has been given the authority to be the judge of all mankind.
Christ is our Lawyer, our Saviour, our Mediator and our Paraclete (advocate or intercessor), who says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will have supper with him and he with Me" (Rev.3:20).
However, for those who spurned the good tidings of great joy there is coming a dreadful day the day of the Great White Throne Judgment when Christ will judge those whose names are not written in the book of life and throw them into the lake of fire, a state of eternal separation from God (Rev.20:11-15).
The first coming of Christ in Bethlehem was announced as good tidings of great joy to the whole world (Lk.2:10-11). But the second coming of Christ will be the most glorious and thrilling news to those who have embraced the Christ of Bethlehem and the most dreadful news to those who rejected Him as their Saviour at His first advent.
Where do you belong?