256) For You (part one)

     The angel said, “Today… there has been born for you a Savior” (Luke 2:11).  The Christmas story is, of course, a very nice story.  A young couple named Mary and Joseph are far from home and down on their luck.  They can’t find a room for the night, and have to stay in a barn.  Not only that, but it becomes the very night that Mary goes into labor and her first child is born.  But then everything works out just fine.  It turns out they are not alone, but shepherds come into the barn with the news that a sky full of angels told them about the birth, and that this child was to be someone very special.  This is indeed a nice story with a happy ending.

     But it is not only a nice story.  The story of The Three Little Pigs is also a nice story.  There are some tense moments with the big bad wolf huffing and puffing and blowing everybody’s house down, but then it all works out, and, like the Christmas story, it has a happy ending.  But the Christmas story, unlike the story of the three little pigs, is a true story.

     C. S. Lewis was an expert on stories.  He was a Professor of Literature at Cambridge and Oxford Universities.  He knew what made a story great, he knew how a good short story or a good novel should be structured, he knew about character development and dialog and styles of writing, and he knew about symbolism and hidden meanings.  He was a recognized authority on fictional stories.  And, he was a writer of stories– children’s stories, science fiction, religious fiction– all kinds of stories.  Today, over 50 years after his death, all of his works are still in print and selling very well.  Lewis did not become a Christian until he was in his thirties, and when he did, he told a friend, “The thing I finally came to realize about the story of Jesus is that it is true”– from beginning to end, he said, it is not the sort of thing one would make up, nor is it told like a made up story.  It is told like a story that really happened, and “Once I realized that,” Lewis said, “I had to become a Christian — because there is no other true story like it in all of human history.”  Not only is the Christmas story a nice story, it is a true story.

     And yet, even at that, this story is still no big deal.  There are many wonderful and true stories in the world.  What IS a big deal about the Christmas story and what makes it the most important true story of all time, is that it was all FOR YOU.  God became a man, born as a little baby in those most humble circumstances, FOR YOU, said the angel.  You see, the Christmas story was just the beginning of the story of what God would do for you while he was on earth in the person of Jesus Christ.  Jesus would first have to grow up, as babies must do.  And then, even after he was grown, he would, for a while, live a life and work a job just like anyone else.  But then, at age 30 he would begin a three year ministry that would change the whole world.  And then, most importantly, he would give his life as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of all the sins ever committed in all the world, and by that forgiveness, offer the gift of salvation; and by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus would offer eternal life to you and to all who would believe in him.  Of all the stories ever told about all the things that ever happened, only this story contains a wonderful promise that can help you even after you die.  As Lewis said, “There is no other story like it.”

     This is what God’s Word tells us, not only in this story at the beginning of Jesus’ life, but also throughout Jesus’ ministry, and then, also, at the end of his life.  In words you have heard many times, “Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the night in which he was betrayed took bread, and gave thanks; broke it and gave it to his disciples saying, ‘take and eat; this is my body, given for you…”  And then, “Take this cup…it is the new covenant in my blood, shed for you and for all people, for the forgiveness of sin.”  This is reason and purpose and central point of the story– from the announcement of the angels at the birth of Jesus, to his last will and testament to the disciples just before his death, in the whole story, it is made clear that it is all for you.  The story of Christmas and the entire story of Jesus life on earth is, from beginning to end, the story of God’s grace.  It is certainly not anything we could have managed on our own, and it is simply by hearing that story and believing in that story that it becomes our own story.  It is all by God’s action, all by his grace, grace given freely to you and for you.    (continued…)

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II Peter 1:16  —  We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

Luke 2:10-11 — The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Luke 22:19-20 — And Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”  In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

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Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son to earth as a baby so many years ago, for me.   Thank you that He paid the punishment for my sins by dying on the cross.   And thank you that He rose again to prove that death was truly defeated.  I place my trust in You to be my Savior.  Guide me through the dark times of my life and give me courage to live for you.  Amen.   –Max Lucado