We know that Jesus came to die for us. That's what makes His birth so worth celebrating.
But have we forgotten that He also came to live for us, that even now He "always lives to make intercession for us" (Heb 7:25)?
Many a husband boasts that he would die for his wife, but would not dream of putting her before himself in day-to-day life, of living sacrificially for her.
Jesus is not that kind of husband. And His church is the most blessed bride imaginable.
You know that righteousness which He imputes to us (i.e. credits to our account)? It's not just the righteousness that He had from eternity past. It's the righteousness He lived out for us as the God-Man, representing us, as one of us, so that He in His righteousness could stand in our place before the throne of God.
The perfect man. Living perfectly when it hurt, simply because it pleased the Father He loved, and because He wanted to qualify us to enjoy the Father, too. He could have continued living flawlessly in Heaven, you know. But He chose to do it here, in human flesh...day after difficult day; in poverty, in disgrace under a cloud of presumed illegitimacy, in ordinary obscurity, by the sweat of his brow, for the sake of people who appreciated none of it. At least, not nearly as much as they should have, if at all.
He lived perfectly, not just in the big dramatic moments that we read about in Scripture, but in the countless inconsequential moments that never made it on record. Thirty-some years of ordinary experiences...and not one moment lived selfishly. He received every second from His Father's hand, and deliberately laid each one on the altar of His Father's will (John 8:28) for our sake (John 17:19).
Before He was our dying sacrifice, He was our living sacrifice. Truly, what He asks of us (Rom 12:1-2) is nothing that He hasn't done for us first.
When God commanded sacrifices, He never asked anybody what they thought they should give. He laid all His requirements out in excruciating detail. And once a sacrifice was given, it was completely out of the giver's hands. It belonged to God, and God decided what to do with it.
He accepted some and rejected others (Gen 4:5, Prov 15:8, Hos 8:13, Heb 11:4). Some He commanded to be used to feed the priests and their families. Some He commanded would supply food for a joyous celebration for the sacrifice-bringer and his loved ones.
Some He commanded would be burned to ashes, leaving nothing at all for the bringer to enjoy.
Most sacrifices passed without any visible indication of God's involvement in the process. But some rocked the giver's world with supernatural approval or wrath (1 Kings 18: 37-39, Lev 10:1-2).
And so it is with living sacrifices...with moments given into His hands. We have no say in what is done with them once given. Some moments will serve to feed others. Some will supply celebrations for us to enjoy.
Others will seem to leave nothing but ashes.
Few will rock our world with signs of supernatural response.
Jesus knew all those kinds of sacrifices. Moments, received with thanks and offered back, which fed thousands on hillsides. Moments that supplied wine for wedding feasts.
Moments, or rather hours, of agony ending in the dust of death.
And in the moment of His sacrificial death, He made no demands, but put it all in the Father's hands to do with as He pleased (Luke 23:46).
But no, His sacrifices did not end there. His righteousness accomplished all that He came to do, so that His perfect life and perfect death could both be imputed to us (Isa 61:10, 2 Co 5:21). And God rocked our world with His supernatural seal of approval. We call it the resurrection, and in it we who believe are also raised to new life (Rom 6:4).
On this day when we celebrate His birth, may we remember to celebrate His life as well. If we are His, then His life flows in our veins. He is our life.
Blessed be His name!
Photo by clshearin