Wednesday, December 23, 2015
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Visiting people who are in the hospital; I'm guessing that's not your favorite thing to do. A lot of times it's hard to know what to say to the person; especially if their condition is serious. But there are some visits where it's easy to think of things to say – like when you're visiting a new mom or a new baby. All you have to say is, "Aww, she's beautiful!" "Oh, he looks so smart; so alert" or "That's the cutest baby I've ever seen!" See, you're supposed to say these things even if the baby still looks all red and bald and wrinkled. But that first Christmas...well, one of the first people to see Mary's baby did not follow the usual script.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Strange Words For a New Mom."
Following the Jewish custom, Mary and Joseph brought their baby boy to the temple to be circumcised, just eight days after that first Christmas. God had someone waiting for them there – an old man named Simeon who had been told by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the One he called "the Lord's Christ." He actually held the baby in his arms and praised God for sending Him.
But then came those strange words for a new mom. In Simeon's words we find the shadow of great pain for Mary but great hope for you and me. In Luke 2:34-35, our word for today from the Word of God, "Simeon...said to Mary, His mother: ‘This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel...the thoughts of many will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul, too.'" That's not exactly what a new mom wants to hear.
But eight days into Jesus' life on earth, Simeon is foreshadowing the end of Jesus' life. The Bible tells us that thirty-three years later "near the cross stood His mother" (John 19:25). And surely, as Mary saw her boy nailed to a cross and pierced by a soldier's spear, that sword Simeon spoke of must have pierced her soul.
So as we sing our "sleep in heavenly peace" and "joy to the world" carols, let's not miss the shadow looming over the manger. It's the shadow of a cross. But that cross was not some tragic twist of fate. It was the plan of a God who loves you so very much. It was His plan to give you and me a chance to go to heaven instead of hell; to enjoy the relationship with God we were made for but we've missed because we're running our own lives.
And if there had been any other way to erase your sin from God's book and pay for your sin, believe me, God would have done it. But all your goodness, and your religion, and your Christianity can't pay sin's death penalty. Someone had to die to pay for it, and Someone did – the Son of God.
The writer of the classic carol, "What Child Is This" expressed it powerfully, "Nails, spear shall pierce Him through, the cross be borne for me, for you; hail, hail, the Word made flesh, the Babe, the son of Mary."
So you've had your Christmases, you've celebrated Jesus' coming. Have you ever had your Good Friday where you stand at the foot of that cross and say the two words that are the difference between heaven and hell, "For me. Jesus, what You did here was for me, and I'm giving me to You." That's the only way you can receive the gift of eternal life that He died to give you.
Have you known about Jesus all your life but maybe missed that step? If you've never done that, let this be your Jesus-day. You'll have a lot more to celebrate than just Jesus' coming to earth. This season you'll celebrate His coming into your life. If that's what you want, tell Him right now, "Jesus, I want to belong to You. I am taking for myself what You died for on the cross." What a new beginning this will be for you.
A lot of people have found help in beginning that relationship at our website. And I want to invite you to check it out this very day. It's ANewStory.com. If right now you sense Jesus knocking on that door in your heart, you want to talk with someone, well then text us at 442-244-WORD.
It wasn't just Mary's heart that was pierced on that awful day on Skull Hill. We can only imagine the anguish in God the Father's heart, watching His Son be broken for you. So you can be sure that God will never forget what you do with His Son.