It was Christmas. I was not celebrating the birth of a child but the dying of the man, Jesus. In my mind I could picture the cross scene. Jesus in the middle of two thieves, slowly bleeding to death and I wondered why. This dying of a perfect man was just as much a miracle from God as was the birth of a child half man, half God. I knew the answer, oh! I had read it and heard it so many times before. He was dying so I might live.
Looking up on my scene of my mind, I ask why it was not I on that cross. Me, paying for my own filthy sins rather than this innocent perfect man. That too had been explained time and again for I was not worthy to be a sacrifice even for my own sins. The sacrifice had to be without a blemish, faultless, pure in every way, Jesus was that man and surely as I stand here, I knew I was not. My sins though mild compared to many, still the filth of them was enough to condemn me both as a sinner and as an unworthy sacrifice.
I watched as the figure on the cross would raise his body in great pain just to breath. Then he would relax the muscles of his legs, but that put the pressure upon his hands and feet. The skin just could not hold the weight without tearing. Time and again, Jesus had to go through this excruciating pain just to breath. Each breath was for the payment of sins of mankind. I remembered the verses of scripture of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, asking God to let this cup pass away from him but never the less thy will be done. The fear of the pain, the fear of the filth of sin upon his body had overwhelmed him. Thus he prayed three times but each time the burden was lessen. When he rose the third time he had won the victory over self, and had triumphed with surrender to the will of his Father.
Watching, I remembered the other things Jesus must endure. Surely, any man could die in this fashion even if not for the same purpose. This death alone was not the completion of the miracle of the Cross. Jesus had to die, sure, but he had to also face the trauma of death and spend three days in the depths of hell to wrench the keys of hell from the hands of his dread enemy, Satan. From hell’s grasp he had to release those who had gone before believing he would come, that he would be the Messiah as promised by God. This would not be a vacation of pleasure, it would be and was a test of his faith that God could bring him up from the grave as promised.
On the third day, the miracle of rebirth was completed by Jesus. His part was over. He had completed the assignment of his Father and now provided a path from death to the throne of God. He walked and talked with his followers. He was still teaching them the new way of how God desired man to follow his lead. Jesus now took on the role of intercessor, but he also received all authority over the earth and the heavens. His church founded during his life time was established, now it was given authority to reach out, the command to reach out for the lost as he had reached out while walking the earth. Jesus would remain the authority, no man made hierarchy would rule his church for he would rule the families of believers.
Now the scene is set for the greatest of miracles, the rebirth of any man, woman or child who receives the provided Gift of Jesus. That gift is eternal life and it is by grace through faith, not of works lest any man should boast. Jesus did it himself. No man can lay claim to this miracle of life, not even the receiver of life. I love the spirit of Christmas and its sense of giving but it is not the date we celebrate but the birth of a God Child who will one day provide any believer life. I agonize over what Jesus had to do, so innocent at birth, but still so innocent at death. I rejoice for the miracle of my eternal life and to think it all started way back there in a manger.