To What Degree?

degree

There is an unresolvable mystery surrounding the Christmas story.  It has to do with the illogical proposition that Jesus was fully human, and yet also fully God.  It has to do with the fulfillment of prophecy spoken by the Prophet Isaiah, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” (7:14) Matthew’s Gospel tells “Immanuel” means “God with us.” (1:23)

For me there are many mysteries about the virgin birth, the signs of God, the shepherds, the angels, the wise men, the star, Herod’s role, and the trip to Egypt then back to Nazareth.  All of this as a part of God’s plan of salvation, just takes my breath away.  But when I consider the duality of the life of the Man/God Jesus Christ, I’m almost speechless.  Notice I said, “almost.”  I am, after all, a pastor/teacher/writer, and you can ask anyone… I am seldom caught speechless.

The question I ponder all year long, but most intensely at Christmas is, “To what degree was Jesus a man? To what degree was Jesus divine?”  It’s easy to take a Sunday School approach, like a child just learning “facts” by repetition, and answer, “Jesus was 100% human, 100% divine.”  These are indeed the facts as presented in Scripture.  Therein lies the mystery.

At age 12 Jesus has traveled with His parents to Jerusalem for Passover, but on the way back home they discover He is not in the caravan.  Going back to the Temple, they find Him sitting with the teachers (Sanhedrin), “both listening and asking them questions.”  When questioned by His parents “why have You treated us this way?”, Jesus responds, “Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?”  So, even at this young age, Jesus was self-aware of at least some of His own nature of Sovereignty.

From what point during His childhood, did Jesus start becoming self-aware of the duality of His nature?  Scripture teaches that He was “tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin,” and this temptation was directed at the MAN – Jesus.  At the same time, the Bible says that Jesus claimed, “I and the Father are one.” so the MAN-Jesus claims to be God-Jesus.  Anyone who spends much time considering the implications of these two phrases, will find themselves in a mystery so rich and deep it cannot be fathomed.

A few years ago, I was introduced to a Christmas song, that has become my absolute favorite.  I listen to it often every year around this time.  It speaks to me.

To what degree was Jesus a Man?  100%

To what degree is Jesus God? 100%

It is a…

Mystery

The child was born on Christmas day
Born to save the world
But long before the world began
He knew His Death was sure
The pain and strife secured

Mystery… how He came to be a Man
But greater still…How His Death was in His Plan
God predestined that His Son would die
And He still created man
Oh what Love is this
That His Death was in His Hands

The Christmas trees they glow so bright
With presents all round
But Christmas brought a tree of life
With Blood that sacrificed
The greatest gift in life

I am just a man
And can’t begin to comprehend
When You look into this traitor’s eyes
What do You see that justifies the Lamb

God predestined that His Son would die
And He still created man
Oh what Love is this
That His Death was in His Plan

Mystery…

Mystery…

 

click on the Title – “Mystery” above, then watch and listen on YouTube.

 

Degree

One-Way Ticket

road

They say that once you’ve left, you can’t go back.  They say that once you’ve said it, you can’t un-say it.  They say once you’ve done it, you can’t un-do it.  They say … well, you see where I’m going with this.

I don’t pretend to be a philosophical giant. The mind games of philosophy are writhe with every nuance of possibilities not known or seen, and I simply can’t compete at that level.  I’m more a meat-and-potatoes kind of philosopher.  One who accepts that there are indeed things I cannot know or see, yet I can KNOW the ONE who sees and knows all things.

There are those who want to convince us that when it’s over, it’s just over.  That life will never be anything more than what it is today.  They say you can’t go back, and there’s nothing after this, so today, right now is the most important moment you live.  This ticket really leads to hedonism.  Since most after-life philosophies are tied directly or indirectly to moral consequences of our actions in this life, if there’s nothing after this, morality and social mores go out the window, and everyone is entitled to do whatever they want.

Every religion and philosophical system in the world has some merits of goodness in them I suppose, some type of morality, or social or cultural focus, that causes men and women to become consumed by its teachings.  However, this ticket to the afterlife has no guarantees, because most of these systems are based in what you “do.”  Meaning if you simply “do” enough of the right things, then when you cross over into the afterlife, some form of heaven or nirvana will be yours.  There is only one problem here.  How does a person ever really know if they have “done” enough to actually get there?

Christmas is more than just a season.  This holiday allows truth seekers another chance every year to hear and listen while the true story is told of the “One-Way Ticket.”  I realize that my personal philosophy and belief system is based in believing that the Bible is absolute truth.  That said, I would be remiss if I tried saying anything at all about the afterlife designed for humanity, if it contradicted what is written in God’s Word.

So here’s the simple truth (the meat-and-potatoes truth) of what’s in our future.

The One-Way Ticket: Baby

Isaiah 7:14
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.

Matthew 1:23
… which translated means, “GOD WITH US.”

Matthew 1:21
“She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

The One-Way Ticket: Man

John 14:6
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

Acts 4:12
“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

The One-Way Ticket: King

Revelation 22:20
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

It’s all there in six verses.  The way, the truth, and the life after this one, are all based on a one-way ticket, whose name is Jesus.

But don’t miss out on the real reason for His coming, as a baby, man, and King.

John 10:10
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

This Christmas you may discover, if you commit to these simple truths, that this life right here and now can take on new meaning.  If your future is secure in Jesus Christ, then focus now on making this life all that Jesus designed for it to be.  Prove the hedonist and the workaholic religious fanatics wrong.  Enjoy the freedom that comes in knowing “God with us” and share His love in tangible ways that speak of God’s truth, and bring Him glory.

 

 

One-Way

 

Sludge: trudging through

35 days until ChristmasIt’s “that” time of year.  It’s the season of holiday madness, black Friday deals, family tensions, disappointing football, and a general bah-humbug-i-ness that permeates and coagulates into an imperceptible emotional sludge.  During the very time of year when we should be most thankful, filled with joy, peace, and love, many struggle to just keep trudging through.

I’ll admit there are days like that for me.  So how do we focus?  Where do we find the courage and strength just to deal with the realities of life during the “holidays?”

Maybe it is as simple as understanding that commercialism drains us, and God Himself wants to fill us.  The lure and enticements of “the deal” can instantly shift our focus back to material, earthly concerns.  We fuss and fidget to find that perfect gift for the ones we love, or we worry that the hints we’ve been dropping about what we “want” for Christmas haven’t been heard… because it’s on “sale” this weekend.

This year my prayer is that you will find Thanksgiving Happiness, and the Joy-filled Christmas you’ve always wanted.  So, I’m praying that God will intervene personally in your life, in your mind, in your relationships, and in the core of your being with a simple truth to focus on.

Isaiah 7:14
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.

Matthew 1:23
“Behold! The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel” (which means, “God with us”).

If God can make good on a four hundred year old promise, then we can trust that He will make good on the other promises He makes to us as true Christ-followers.  One promise that I pray you will focus on this year is this:

John 10:10
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

Think of all that emotional sludge of this season as “the thief” in this verse, and don’t let it rob you of the joy, peace, and hope of this celebration time!

Live in such a way, through the next few days and weeks, that your very abundant life demonstrates God’s glory to the world around you.

 

 

Sludge