Saturday, 17 December 2011

Where is the glory of Christmas?

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14, NKJV)

In this verse, we find what is perhaps the shortest description of Christmas: "the Word became flesh". Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God (here called "the Word"), became a human being of flesh and bones just like us and was born as a baby in Bethlehem some 2,000 years ago.

It is here that we also see the glory of Christmas - in the person of Jesus Christ. Those who lived with Jesus and saw Him tell us: "We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."

But what exactly is that - "the glory of Christ"? And how does one see it? Perhaps you are thinking of the bright light that shone around the angels as they proclaimed the Saviour's birth to the shepherds (Luke 2:8-9). That is certainly one expression of Christ's glory, but one that was rarely seen on the earth.

The glory of Christ that the gospel writer John is describing here is not a glory that is full of light but a glory that is "full of grace and truth". And that is how we see Christ's glory today. We see the portraits of Christ in Scripture and we see that He is beautiful and wonderful and glorious.

The glory of Christ is full of truth. Jesus came to earth to tell us the truth - about ourselves, about the world we live in, about our hearts, about our sin, and about God. He came to warn us that God is a righteous Judge who will give everyone a just punishment for their sins - eternal suffering in hell. That sounds shocking, but it should tell us just how great and terrible our sins really are in the sight of a holy God. Jesus was never afraid or ashamed of speaking the truth. He spoke about hell more than any other person in the Bible.

But the glory of Christ is also full of grace. Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound (Romans 5:20). Grace is unmerited favour. It is God giving us something we don't deserve. What we deserve is hell. But God gave us His Son. He gave us His Son to act as our Substitute and take the punishment we deserve on Himself by dying on the cross. Jesus was born to die. Through His death, Jesus defeated sin and brings life to all those who believe in Him.

The glory of Christmas is the glory of Christ. Take a closer look at Christ this Christmas. Read about Him in the gospels. Also consider these words from the Puritan writer John Owen in his book The Glory of Christ:

How glorious the Lord Jesus Christ is in the eyes of believers!

When Adam sinned, he stood ashamed, afraid, trembling, as one ready to perish for ever under the severe displeasure of God. Death was what he deserved, and he fully expected the sentence to be immediately carried out.

In this state, the Lord Jesus Christ in the promise comes to him, and says, ‘Poor creature! How terrible is your condition! How deformed you are now! What has become of the beauty, the glory of that image of God in which you were created? See how you have taken upon yourself the monstrous shape and image of Satan? And yet your present sorrow, your physical return to dust and darkness, is in no way to be compared with what is to follow. Eternal distress lies before you. But now, look up and behold me, and you will have a glimpse of what infinite wisdom, love and grace have purposed for you. Do not continue to hide from me. I will take your place. I will bear your guilt and suffer that punishment which would sink you eternally into the hideous depths of hell. I will pay for what I never took. I will be made a curse for you so that you may be eternally blessed.’

In the same vein the Lord Jesus speaks to all convicted sinners when he invites them to come to him.

If you don't see any glory in this, you have not yet seen Christ properly. Ask God to open your eyes to behold the glory and beauty of Christ - it will change your life!

There is no greater truth, no greater grace and no greater glory than in Jesus Christ.

No comments: