(A meditation given at Christmas time.)
It’s Christmas, and all over the world people are taking the time to at least pause for just a little while and think about the baby who was born in a livestock shed 2,000 years ago. It is appropriate to remember Christ’s birth for He is the Savior of the world. While people think about the child lying in the feeding trough, I hope that they also take the time to remember why He came – to redeem us all from sin. After all, even our custom of gift-giving is intended to remind us of the gift which Jesus gave, of reconciliation to God.
Yet, in one sense, it is strange that we should set aside a holiday to remember Christ’s birth. Nowhere did Jesus ever command His disciples to remember it. It is especially strange in light of the fact that the thing which Jesus did ask us to remember is His death. You see, Jesus’ birth is only significant in the context of His crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection. We celebrate Christ’s birth only because He died and rose again.
Why is it important that we remember Christ’s death? Certainly, the piece of unleavened bread which we eat each week, and the cup of juice which we drink helps us visualize the sacrifice which Christ made for us. It’s good to be reminded that we need that sacrifice. We stood before God, condemned as a result of our sin. Jesus paid our debt and became our righteousness. It’s good to be reminded that we aren’t accepted by God because of our own efforts or because of our own goodness, but because of what Jesus did for us.
But there is more. In writing about the Lord’s Supper, or Communion, the Apostle Paul says something very interesting. “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:26 NIV)
“Until He comes.” Christmas is intended to remind us of Jesus’ birth. Communion is designed to remind us of Jesus’ return. In those three words, ‘until he comes,’ there is a world of hope. John writes, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2 NIV) You see, Jesus didn’t come just to redeem us from sin, He came to transform us. One day we will be like Him. One day He’s coming back and we will see Him as He really is. One day we will be with Him forever. Communion reminds us that death and the grave are not the end. It reminds us that Christ rose from the dead and we can live in hope that we also will rise and will live with Him.
Paul writes, “…if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:17-22 NIV)
This Christmas season, by all means, let us remember Christ’s birth. But let’s remember it in the context of His death, and let’s remember that it is Christ’s resurrection that gives us hope. Today, as we eat the bread and drink the juice, let’s remember that it is a token of the promise we’ve been given that Jesus is coming back again and that all those who are in Him will be transformed to be like Him.
This is a good time to ask yourself whether you are in Christ. Do the promises apply to you?