(Click to listen to an audio recording of this article, read by the author)
I’m not one those people that gets super excited about Christmas every year, listening to Christmas music in September, decorating the house by November, and counting down the days on my calendar with great anticipation. I’ve never really been one to get worked up over the gifts and the eating, and the holiday spirit in general. But there is one piece of the Christmas season that I am very thankful for, not just at Christmas, but the whole year round, and that is the life that Jesus lived while He was here on earth.
We have a holiday to celebrate Jesus’ birth, and we have a holiday to remember the day He died for us on the cross and then rose again, but the real cause for celebration is everything in between: the life of victory over sin that Jesus lived.
His heart was so moved with compassion
Before Jesus came down to earth, He was in heaven with His Father (Proverbs 8:27-31), and I’m sure it was extremely glorious there! But He saw us suffering on earth. He saw how we struggled with the sin in our nature, and how we could never come free from it because no one had showed us how. His heart was so moved with compassion for us that He gave up His seat in heaven and came down to earth to show us a new way to live. He knew going into it what was going to be asked of Him. He knew the trials and sufferings He would face by taking on flesh and blood like the rest of us. (Philippians 2:5-8; Hebrews 2:14-15; Hebrews 5:7-8) He knew that He would be tempted, just like we are. (Hebrews 4:15) But He was willing to suffer all of that so that we could learn by His life how to come free from sin.
And that is something to get super excited about.
No, Jesus didn’t just come to give us forgiveness for our sins. They had that already in the days before Jesus, by offering up sacrifices in the temple. If Jesus had just come with the forgiveness of sins, He wouldn’t really have brought anything new, would He? But no, He came to show us the way to victory! Now, instead of sinning again and again, and having to ask for forgiveness every time, I can stop sinning! Jesus showed us how to pull sin out by the root, when He said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28.
This is the answer that Jesus came with! Right in my heart – in my thoughts – I can say no to temptation, and then that temptation will never develop into sin, causing hurt to me and to those around me.
How hopeful for me!
This is how Jesus took it. Not once did He sin, despite being tempted just like I am. How hopeful for me! I have every reason to celebrate His birth. He took on the form of a man when He came to earth, so He had no special abilities or gifts that made it easier for Him to get victory than anyone else. (Hebrews 2:17-18) That means that if He did it, I can do it too! I can take sin out at the very root – when it’s just a suggestion in my thoughts – and I never have to be plagued by a guilty conscience as a result of sinning.
How light and free this is! Giving in to sin has only ever brought sorrow for me and those around me. Selfishness, for example, sets in like a disease if I allow it to live, growing and causing me to be consumed with my own ego, and how I can come out ahead, what I can get and have for myself. But Jesus was so selfless and so bent on doing God’s will that even when He faced death on the cross, His words were, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” Luke 22:42.
What a forerunner! I feel like I owe Jesus a great debt of love for coming down to earth and suffering and dying to open this way for me. And the best way – in fact the only truly fitting way – to repay that debt is follow in His footsteps and use every temptation as an opportunity to get victory over sin, so that His suffering for me was not in vain. Then I will be filled with joy, and I will reign with Him in eternity as His brother, which is what He so earnestly desires.
“For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren …” Hebrews 2:10-18.