All throughout the Gospels we see examples of the Pharisees trying to get Jesus out of the way. Jesus came preaching a message that was radically different from the message the Pharisees were trying to get people to buy into. When Jesus started surging in popularity, it was a huge threat to the Pharisees. As more and more people started following Jesus, less and less people were following the Pharisees- all of a sudden they were losing their grip on the religious power they had enjoyed before Jesus came along.
So they tried whatever they could to get people to turn on Jesus. They tried trapping Jesus into saying things that would alienate people and push them away from his teaching. They even tried eliminating him altogether.
One of those times is recorded in Matthew 22. This is the passage we get the phrase “Render until Caesar that which belongs to Caeser.”
The passage seems pretty simple and straightforward, but I think there’s a deeper spiritual meaning that you may not have ever thought about. And you should.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is here. The weather is getting colder, red and green have puked all over every single store in the country, houses are being decorated with twinkling lights, and at any given moment I guarantee you can find a Bing Crosby song somewhere on the radio dial.
The time is now. Christmas season is upon us.
Amidst all the hustle of Christmas shopping and capitalism and just our lives in general, there will undoubtedly be well-intentioned people speaking up to caution us to "remember the reason for the season!"
This, of course, is an invitation to reflect on the night of our dear Savior's birth. That holy night where Joseph and Mary's boy was born away in a manger with no crib for a bed. We remember that silent night, that holy night.
And we should! We absolutely should celebrate all those things. But there has to be more to the "true meaning of Christmas." As the song says, we find in Christmas a thrill of hope at which the weary world rejoices.
That thrill of hope is the true reason for the season, and we must look beyond the manger to find it.
Make no mistake. The Christmas story tells a true tale of one miracle after another. Think about it! We see a host of angels announcing the birth of the long-awaited Messiah. The Lord of Lords, the infinite and all-powerful God of the universe, came to earth to walk among us.
Except... He had to crawl first.
God Himself was born on Christmas day... To a virgin. The Word became flesh in the form of a baby that couldn't even help but poop himself!
And everything happened just as it was foretold centuries beforehand. To be sure, this is a cause for celebration!
However, there is a weight to Christmas that we often forget that is vital to our understanding of the truemeaning of Christmas. You see, Jesus came to earth as a man on a mission. The part of Jesus' life that makes for a good Lifetime movie is very important to His story, but the part of the story that brings us "the thrill of hope" plays out more like a grizzly horror film. Yes, Christ the Savior was born in Bethlehem, but the saving work that He came to do happened at Golgotha on Calvary's tree. In order to understand fully understand Christmas we have to see it through the lens of Good Friday and Easter, because Jesus came to earth on Christmas for one reason and one reason alone: to pay the price for my sins, and for your sins, on the cross and redeem that which was lost. The story starts at Christmas, but it's not complete without Easter.
Throughout the season, we ought to celebrate the birth of Jesus, absolutely. But let us never get so caught up in the glitz and the glam and the warm fuzzies we get during the holidays that we forget: ultimately, the Baby that was born, was born to die. And this is the Gospel. Mild he lay his glory by, born that men no more may die. Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give us second birth. And for that, He had to die.
So, on this Christmas, remember: Christ the Savior is born. The price has been paid. We have in the birth, and death and resurrection, of Christ the thrill of hope. The weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Merry Christmas, everyone.
|Lakeview Baptist Church||