MY PERSPECTIVE, Gary Damron
‘The spirit of Christmas is in the air. The context is Bethlehem, announcing angels, stirred up shepherds, the Magi studying and traveling, Joseph dreaming. It wasn’t all glorious: a young family fled to Egypt, then returned to Nazareth where their son spent thirty years in a carpenter shop
Though some refute anything they can’t touch, historical evidence is clear that a baby born in a faraway village revolutionized the world. My great-great-grandfather lived and raised a family, even if I haven’t yet discovered the records. The numbers of people who follow Jesus are astounding; there is never a time that thousands are not reading about or praying to the Child born that night.
The question is not how, when or where the Savior came, but why? In order to find that, we’ll first look at what he said regarding misconceptions about his coming.
Jesus’ teachings do transform culture, but his objective was not to start a revolution or promote anti-establishment doctrine. The wellbeing of too many lives is at stake for each of us to think and believe whatever we want. An example might be an airport: workers in other jobs clock out and leave as soon as the next shift begins. But air traffic controllers have an hour overlap, with both spending serious time making sure everyone is safe.
The Pharisees had a test of orthodoxy – whether a teacher believed in the Jewish Law and the Prophets. Jesus identified himself with the teachings of the Old Testament which serve as the foundation for Christian faith. He revealed his presence throughout ancient scriptures, saying, “‘Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill’” (Matthew 5:17).
Also, Jesus did not come to hang out with self-satisfied religious people. Anyone who visits a doctor’s office will notice the waiting room is full of sick people. Pharisees considered it an embarrassment that Jesus ate with sinners and tax collectors, interacted with women, touched diseased people. Jesus referred to Hoses 6:6 when he said, “‘But go and learn what this means: “I desire compassion and not sacrifice,” for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners’” (Matthew 9:13). Pharisees were good at diagnosing and criticizing yet offered no cure. They wanted a Messiah just like them, but Jesus came to heal and forgive.
Another way Jesus did not come was as an empire builder. Mark 10:45 reads, “‘For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’” Two of his disciples didn’t get it at first – James and John asked for permission to sit on his right and left hand in glory. But John later wrote, “We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren’” (1 John 3:16).
Don’t assume that Christ is judging and finding us unworthy; he did not come to pronounce judgment. He who possessed the knowledge and authority to condemn, did not. “‘For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him’” (John 3:17). “‘You judge according to the flesh; I am not judging anyone’” (John 8:15). “‘I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world’” (John 12:47).
The baby born in Bethlehem became our servant, a shepherd for the lost, a physician for the broken, the bearer of wisdom and truth. The message of Christmas did not come for the rebels, the judgmental, empire builders, the self-satisfied. For the next two weeks, we’ll look more at why Christ did come.