[So that we could become His children]
Growing up in a home where we were guided by misinterpretations of Scripture and added rules set by man, not God, meant that our family wasn’t able to celebrate the holidays–none of them, not even birthdays.
Though my parents went along with these rules, I think it bothered them that we’d miss out on the experience of receiving gifts. Really, it’s not the getting that’s the gift; we say it’s the giving–and while this is true, it’s also the joy that’s shared by all. I believe that this is why Christmas is best shared with friends and family. It just seems so sad when someone spends it alone, doesn’t it? In place of celebrating Christmas, my parents skirted the no holidays rule by giving us gifts on their wedding anniversary. One year they made a real event of it by hiding our gifts around the yard–much like an Easter egg hunt.
The four of us kids ran about the property excitedly, hunting for our treasures, and when I happened upon a small two-wheeler bicycle, I was ecstatic! However, I was soon sorely disappointed, when I learned the bicycle was not my gift; it was instead meant for my younger brother. One of my older brothers found and revealed my gift–a baby carriage. I wasn’t thrilled. (My poor parents.) I didn’t know what a baby carriage was or what I was supposed to do with it. In comparison to that shiny bike–something I could understand, and get on board with–that buggy was not the treasure I was hoping for. My parents explained to me what it was and what it was made for, and I did eventually warm up to it. When I did, I’d push it up and down the driveway, with my dolls nestled inside it’s carriage.
Jesus was that gift to the world, a joy that would be shared by all who would accept Him, but He too turned out to be the gift that wasn’t wanted.
How very symbolic the empty baby carriage I received is to me now! To be fair, I see so much symbolism in this story. Who knew that God had written it into my own story, much like the symbolism that has been written throughout the Bible. I was very surprised by this, and awe inspired is an understatement. Thankfully, like the gift that I initially didn’t want, I warmed up to Jesus, too. That symbolic baby carriage wouldn’t remain empty. Instead, it cradles the Baby Jesus I would finally come to know as my “Immanuel,” a Jewish word, meaning: “God with us.”
“So the Word became man and made His home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” –John 1:14
Peter, first a disciple then an apostle of Christ, used Psalm 118:22 to preach to the Jewish leaders and drive home this fact: Jesus wasn’t wanted, but God sent Jesus to be the cornerstone of our Salvation.
“The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.” –Psalm 118:22
In masonry, only the best stones are saved for the cornerstones because the lines of the stone must be exact, or the whole building will be out of line. Jesus was that stone–only He was that perfect, flawless, level stone. This is why we also call Jesus the rock on which we stand (Matthew 7:24-27). He is the foundation of our faith, as well as the One who measures to see if we’re plum (Amos 7:7-8) He is the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-3).
A plum line, which is used to measure if something is perfectly vertical or upright, consisted of a line and some sort of weight. The Lord uses a plumb line of His own–Jesus–to measure the righteousness (literally, the uprightness) of His people. People were not in line as God desired them to be. He sent prophets to warn his people of how crooked and warped they had become, though in their own eyes they believed that they were upright (self-righteous).
Much like the elders who led my family into inaccurate teachings, the Jewish leaders had things very wrong also–so wrong, in fact, that they desired Jesus’ crucifixion and demanded that the Romans put to death the very Cornerstone sent to make them plumb. Thankfully, God’s plan didn’t end there. Jesus’ death on the cross was not the end of the story, but rather the beginning of a new agreement between God and those who would accept Him (i.e., those who would repent of their sins, and follow Him). He rose from death and ascended to Heaven (Luke 24: 1-12), where He’s gone to prepare a place for those who, in the end, will be proven to be His children. (John 14:3; Romans 8:19)
To receive the gift that is Jesus, we must understand our need for a Savior–that is, we must understand that we are sinners. (This means we have’nt been doing things God’s way.) If you haven’t acknowledged Him and invited Him to be the Savior that He is, you are living in sin (separated from God). However, your story is still so full of hope and love, for Jesus died for your forgiveness, and your transgressions don’t have to prove you guilty before God (Hebrews 10:14-24).
God became flesh in the form of Jesus (John 1:14, John 1:1). He was born of a virgin and grew into a man–with purpose. He healed the sick, and fed the poor to show us how to live and how to care for one another. Jesus Himself washed the feet of His disciples (His students) to show us how to serve others. He put Himself in our shoes and experienced the sufferings that we do, so He understands very well the pain we have endured, and He has great compassion for us (Matthew 11:28-30; Luke 7:13; Matthew 15:32; Isaiah 40:11; Matthew 9:36; Matthew 20:34; Hebrews 4:15).
In His crucifixion, He became the sacrifice that this world needed. Only God Himself could fit that bill: He was a pure and unblemished lamb, the perfect sacrifice. So He endured a painful death to make it possible for us to be made right with Him. We can only learn to love as Jesus loved and live as Jesus lived by receiving the Holy Spirit, (Acts 2:38; John 3:5; John 4:10-14) and by following Jesus’ example. Repentance is necessary because it’s only when we recognize His sovereignty that we can humble ourselves before Him, and it’s only when we are made lower than He that we can accept His wisdom above our own self-righteousness.
For those who have believed that God can’t be seen, we have “seen” Him in the face of Jesus, and He has walked among us. He understands what it is to be human, to be unwanted, and to be treated unfairly. He’s been beaten; He’s been neglected; rejected; and He’s even tasted death. Without His love, we are bound by the lies we believe and the sins we commit against God. Without His Spirit, we are unmoldable, and unteachable. (2 Corinthians 3:18; John 16:13; 1 Corinthians 2:14) We needed a Savior, so He became the way to be saved–a hero born to show and be the way.
Do you see God in the face of Jesus? Will you humble yourself and turn from your self-declared wisdom and learn from the Almighty God? Will you let Jesus be your Savior and recognize Him as the precious gift He truly is: Immanuel, our God with us?
“But when the right time came, God sent His Son who was born of a woman and lived under the law. God did this so He could buy freedom for those who were under the law and so we could become His children.”