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Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Born - to die!

It is a simple fact of life that, at least until the Rapture (see my book: Link in post on Sept.20th, 2012!), each of us is going to experience physical death.  Indeed, as Benjamin Franklin famously said, ''In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

When I was designing our 2012 personal Christmas Card, a month or so ago, I was led to put on the front a crib with a faint picture of the crucifixion in the background with, underneath, the text from Matt 1:21 - "... you shall call His Name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."  My thinking was that the Babe in the manger was to become the Christ of the cross - something that is not realised, I suspect, by the average Christmas reveller!

This morning, my personal Bible reading was in Hebrews 2 - a passage that reminds us that Jesus' humanity was necessary in order that He might taste death since God, by definition, cannot die.  Of course, it's a link that is found throughout God's written Word.  The Christ, the Messiah, was born to die, not simply as a natural progression, but as a definite purpose.  This is why, on the cross, He gave that great shout: "Tetelestai!" ("Finished").  This was not the weak whimper of a man who had been defeated, and was acknowledging the bitter end of his life. No!  It was the loud, triumphant, declaration of One Who had completed the task committed to Him by God the Father!  And it was that death that enables those who place their trust in Him, and submit their lives to Him, to experience that great salvation.

Interestingly, it is in Hebrews 2 that we also find a question that no-one, not even the Omniscient God, can answer: "... how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?" (v.3).  But that's a sermon topic - far too much for a blog post!

It was the novelist and dramatist, Dorothy L. Sayers, who wrote the 1940s radio drama "The Man born to be King", in which the characters speak in contemporary colloquial English - which caused much disquiet among those more used to hearing Jesus and His followers speaking in the polished and formal words of the King James (Authorised) Version of the Bible.  The title is not, I would suggest, quite accurate!  He already was, and continues to be, not only King, but King of kings, and Lord of lords. The gift of gold was symbolic of that Kingship, just as the frankincense was symbolic of His eternal Priesthood.  However, the third of the magi's gifts - myrrh - was symbolic of His death.  He was born - to die.  The Man born to be King had to travel to His throne by the way of the cross.

As the latest Christmas season rapidly becomes no more than a faded memory; a depleted bank balance; an attempt to rid ourselves of excess weight; and the taking of unwanted gifts to our local Charity Shop; may we look forward to Easter.  And not just to Good Friday, but also to the glory of Easter Day, and the chorus that wafted from the blades of grass around the tomb, to the very portals of heaven: "Jesus is risen!  The stone is rolled away!  Glory, hallelujah!"

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