A few years ago, we celebrated the millennium. The year 2000. But 2000 years from what? Certainly not from the beginning of time. Instead we are celebrating 2000 years from the birth of Jesus Christ. The entire civilized world bases their calendar off the birth of Jesus. But who is this Jesus?
You may have heard the story of Christmas – the story of Jesus’ birth. Approximately 2000 years ago in Galilee there was a young virgin named Mary who was engaged to a carpenter named Joseph. An Angel appeared to Mary and told her that God had chosen her to be the mother of Jesus, the Savior. Now Mary wasn’t even married to Joseph at this time, so she asked the Angel how this was possible. And the angel told her that it wouldn’t be her and Joseph’s child, but rather it would be God’s child. Father God put Jesus in Mary’s womb. Mary was kind of like a surrogate mother. She carried Baby Jesus, but He really was not her and Joseph’s biological child. Jesus was a miracle child, His father was God.
At first when Joseph found out the Mary was pregnant, he was going to leave Mary because he thought she was unfaithful. But then an Angel appeared to Joseph and told him that the child was God’s. So Mary and Joseph were wed.
Soon after they were married, a decree was issued by the ruler of the area, that a census was going to be taken. But to take the census, each person was required to return to their home town. So, Mary and Joseph set out on a journey to the town of Bethlehem, from where Joseph’s family originally was. When they arrived in Bethlehem, because of the census and all of the people coming, there was no room in the inn, so Mary and Joseph were allowed to stay in the stable. And that is where Jesus was born. In a smelly stable with cows and donkeys and sheep looking on.
To me that is just awesome. I mean the Son of God was going to be born on this earth as a man. He could have been born anywhere to any family. He could have been born a king, but instead He humbled Himself and was born in a stable to ordinary people. He did this so that he could really understand us. That way as He was growing up he experienced the same things we experience, He felt the same temptations, He experienced the same joys, the same sorrows.
From the moment of His birth, Jesus has made a dramatic impact on His surroundings. Born in an obscure Jewish village about 2,000 years ago. Angels appeared to announce His birth, a bright star emerged in the heavens to celebrate the occasion, and shepherds hurried to His humble cradle to honor the infant’s arrival. Even “wisemen” from the East traveled to Judea to worship the young child.
Jesus’ childhood was pretty normal.
At about the age of 30, leaving behind his vocation as a carpenter, Jesus began his “call” from God. Much as His birth had been marked by significant events, so marked His ministry. For 3 years Jesus traveled about with a small group of disciples and friends. Crowds thronged around Him to hear His words, His memorable stories, and many came for healing and encouragement. He gave the blind man his sight, the deaf his hearing and the cleansed the lepers skin. He even raised a man who had been dead for several days.
From synagogue to seashore, Jesus proclaimed the good news of the Kingdom Of God, turning social and religious ideas upside down. He pronounced blessings on the poor, He cherished children, and He treated women with dignity and respect.
Jesus denounced false religion, hypocrisy and sin. He called for repentance and promised freedom, joy and new life. Infuriated by His growing impact, Jewish religious leaders and other detractors challenged the authority and teaching of Jesus. They arranged for His capture and death.
One of Jesus’ special disciples is the one who betrayed Him. Someone might ask, well if He was God, then why did He allow himself to be captured and put to death? The answer is simple, that was the whole purpose behind why He was sent to Earth. He knew what was going to happen to Him. The Bible says that the night the Romans arrested Jesus, He prayed and He asked His disciples to pray with Him. Jesus was in such agony that night over what was going to happen to him, He literally sweat drops of blood from His forehead (scientists have said that if you are under extreme pressure, it is possible to sweat blood).
And Jesus knew what was going to happen to Him and how much He was going to suffer in the next few hours. He knew that the Roman soldiers were going to arrest Him and they were going to beat Him, and they were going to spit on His face and pull the hairs from His beard. Jesus knew that the soldiers were going to then whip Him 39 times with what is called the cat of nine tails. It is a whip that had 9 prongs at the end, each with a hook or sharp object at the end. And Jesus was whipped 39 times with this cat of nine tails. And Jesus knew that after that, the soldiers would make a crown out of thorns and put it on His head and as they put it on His head, He knew that the thorns would cut into his scalp. Imagine, we complain about a little splinter, and Jesus had a crown of thorns pushed down on His head. And Jesus knew that the soldiers would not stop at that, they would force Him to carry a heavy wooden cross for a long distance up a hill. And when He got to the top of the hill, they would takes nails and nail His hands and feet to this cross. And then they would hang Him up to die. And Jesus knew that even then the soldiers would not be satisfied, they would take a spear and pierce His side.
Jesus was a real person, He was flesh and blood like all of us, and he knew He would feel all the pain and suffering. Jesus knew all of this was going to happen to Him. But He willingly gave the ultimate sacrifice…His life…so that we may obtain salvation. Jesus could have stopped it, the Bible says He could have called out and an army of angels would have come to his rescue, but he didn’t. He didn’t because He knew that by His dying, that was the only way we, as people could be reconciled to God. And He knew that He had to take the whipping from the cat of nine tails because in the bible it says “thru his stripes we are healed.” Each of the lashes He suffered was so that we might be healed of our diseases.
Jesus died up on the cross, but He didn’t remain dead, three days later, He resurrected. He didn’t come back as a spirit, He came back to life as a real person. He was real, you could touch Him. The prophets in the Bible had foretold that Jesus would come back to life, and He did. He stayed with His disciples for 40 days and nights and taught them and then He ascended up to heaven still alive. His disciples watched and saw Him be lifted up to heaven. He went up to heaven to be a Mediator on our behalf to the Father.
But He didn’t leave us alone, He left us the Holy Spirit. Who is the Spirit of God, who lives with us and in us. The Holy Spirit is a comforter who helps us to know God. He teaches us and guides us and helps us pray. And when Jesus went up to Heaven, He left us with a blessing, He said those who believe in Him, through the Holy Spirit will do even greater miracles than He did when He was on the earth.
According to the Bible, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23.
As it is written, “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” Romans 3:10-12.
Often when we hear the word “sin,” we think about adultery, cheating and murder. We think, “I do not do those things. I am law abiding and sincere. I am not a sinner.” But disobeying the will or commandments of God is sin. God’s greatest commandment is “love.” If you have ever told even a white lie, you are a sinner. If you have ever spoken in a harsh tone to another, you are a sinner. If you have ever thought negatively about someone, you are a sinner. If you have ever acted in a selfish manner, you are a sinner.
Most religions agree that only when we are forgiven for all of our sins can we reach Heaven. A sinner cannot enter Heaven. We must be “perfect” to be worthy to stand in God’s presence.
The Bible clearly states that it takes blood to pay for sin. “[W]ithout shedding of blood there is no remission.” Hebrews 9:22. Both Biblically and historically we can see that our ancestors sacrificed animals in order to seek atonement for their sins. Every lamb, bullock, heifer, goat, turtle dove and pigeon offered in the Old Testament times on the altar pictured this: that man, a guilty sinner, must have some innocent one to shed his blood to pay for one man’s sins.
Holding true to this law requiring the shedding of blood for the remission of sins, the Father sent Jesus into this world as a sacrificial lamb. In John 1:29, it is written, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Jesus was sinless. He was without fault. There was no “reason” for Him to be nailed to the cross. Yet, He allowed Himself to be hung on the cross, giving His life for the atonement of the sins of this world. When the Roman soldiers were beating Him, whipping Him, and nailing Him to the cross, Jesus could have easily stopped everything and saved Himself. But He chose not to. Instead, He chose to die for you and me. He humbled Himself and became the sacrificial lamb, for the remission of the sins of those who will believe in Him. He nailed our sins to the cross by the sacrifice of Himself.
Some say one can only attain Heaven by following a certain set of rules, dos and don’ts. Others say one can only be saved if he or she cancels out his or her sins by good works. But the Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” Acts 16:31.
What does it mean to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ? It means believing that He came to this earth, He died for our sins, He rose to life again, and He is alive. But, you are not just to believe the truth about Jesus; you are to believe on Him, that is, depend upon Him, risk Him, trust Him; and when you do, you are saved.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
I once read a story that only begins to explain what this scripture means:
In the city of Chicago, one cold, dark night, a blizzard was setting in. A little boy was selling newspapers on the corner. The people were in and out of the cold. The little boy was so cold that he wasn’t trying to sell many papers.
He walked up to a policeman and said:
“Mister, you wouldn’t happen to know where a poor boy could find a warm place to sleep tonight would you? You see, I sleep in a box up around the corner there and down the alley and it’s awful cold in there for tonight. Sure would be nice to have a warm place to stay.”
The policeman looked down at the little boy and said, “You go down the street to that big white house and you knock on the door. When they come out the door you just say John 3:16, and they will let you in.”
So he did.
He walked up the steps and knocked on the door, and a lady answered.
He looked up and said, “John 3:16″
The lady said, “Come on in son.” She took him in and she sat him down in a split bottom rocker in front of a real big, old fireplace, and she went off.
The boy sat there for a while and thought to himself: John 3:16…I don’t understand it, but it sure makes a cold boy warm.
Later, she came back and asked him, “Are you hungry?”
He said, “Well, just a little. I haven’t eaten in a couple of days and I guess I could stand a little bit of food.”
The lady took him in the kitchen and sat him down to a table full of wonderful food. He ate and ate until he couldn’t eat any more. Then he thought to himself: John 3:16….. boy, I sure don’t understand it but it sure makes a hungry boy full.
She took him upstairs to a bathroom to a huge bathtub filled with warm water, and he sat there and soaked for a while. As he soaked, he thought to himself: John 3:16…I sure don’t understand it but it sure does make a dirty boy clean.
You know, I’ve not had a real bath in my whole life. The only bath I ever had was when I stood in front of that big old fire hydrant as they flushed it out.
The lady came in and got him. She took him to a room, tucked him into a big old feather bed, pulled the covers up around his neck, kissed him goodnight and turned out the lights. As he lay in the darkness and looked out the window, at the snow coming down on that cold night, he thought to himself: John 3:16…. I don’t understand it but it sure makes a tired boy rested.
The next morning, the lady came back up and took him down again to that same table full of food. After he ate, she took him down again to that same big old split bottom rocker in front of the fireplace and picked up a big old Bible. She sat down in front of him and looked into his young face.
“Do you understand John 3:16?” she asked gently.
He replied, “No ma’am, I don’t. The first time I ever heard it was last night when the policeman told me to use it.”
She opened the Bible to John 3:16 and began to explain to him about Jesus.
She explained how He loved us so much, that He willingly died for our sins.
You know, I have to confess I don’t fully understand John 3:16, how God was willing to send His Son to die for me, and how Jesus would agree to do such a thing.
I don’t understand the agony of the Father and every angel in Heaven as they watched Jesus suffer and die. I don’t understand the intense love for me that kept Jesus on the cross till the end. I don’t understand it, but it sure does make life worth living.
If you are looking for love, comfort, acceptance, or a purpose in life, then give Jesus a chance. Ask Him to come into your life and make your life worth living.
If you are looking for healing, peace, prosperity, or happiness, then give Jesus a chance. Ask Him to come into your life and perform a miracle.
Do not let the things of the past hold you back from accepting the free gift that Jesus offers. No matter what you have done in the past. No matter what others may have done to you. Jesus wants to forgive you. Jesus wants to accept you. He has already paid the price, so you no longer have to suffer or bear the consequences. If you take one step towards Him, He will take ten towards you.
Jesus loves you and wants to help you in whatever situation your are in. Even if everything seems hopeless, or impossible, He can change anything. Give Him a chance to change your life. Simply ask Him. And He will.
Just close your eyes and thank Jesus for His sacrifice. Invite Him into your life. Ask Him to cleanse you of all of your past mistakes and to help you to walk on His straight and narrow path.
I asked Jesus, “How much do you love me?”
He said, “This much.” Then He stretched His arms out and died.