December 14, 2011 Devotion Sharing (It Came Upon the Midnight Clear)

Submitted by Linda U from Gracepoint Davis Church

How does this picture of Jesus mesh with the angel’s proclamation of “good news of great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10)?

With the coming of Jesus came “good news of great joy for all the people,” and this good news is the very fact that Jesus came as Emmanuel, “God with us,” and the One who will save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21, 23).  He came not to condemn the world but to save the world through him (John 3:17).  In light of these facts, the best news for sinners to hear is the whole truth of their sinfulness so that they can fully repent and have their sins completely forgiven.

And so with the Pharisees and teachers of the law, although they were pious on the outside, it must have pained Jesus to know that their self-delusion and hypocrisy were putting them on a pathway to hell.  So as the bringer of “good news of great joy for all the people,” which is the news of gospel and promise of heaven to all who are reconciled to God, Jesus can’t help but speak the truth to this group of religious hypocrites.  They need to know that even though they may be doing all the right religious things on the outside, their hearts are so full of themselves and terribly far from God.  For those of these religious leaders who were pierced by these sharp words of Jesus and actually repent from their old lives of hypocrisy, then indeed the coming of Jesus and the gospel message is surely “good news” because their sins have been forgiven and they are restored to God.

And so while the angels sing “Peace on earth, good will to men,” never should I automatically expect that Jesus is the news of “peace” and “goodness” that is of my own self-interest.  Jesus came with the news of true peace, and true goodness, the “good news of great joy for all the people,” which is to be fully restored in a reconciled relationship with God. Because I am a Christian who is actively serving at my church, I’m engaged in ministry, and on the outside, I may appear to be living a decent Christian life, from God’s vantage point, I am still far from His standard of holiness.  I find myself still gripped by worldly values like my desire for competence and control over my life.  I still engage in the practice of image-keeping at times, and I’m still a seeker of human approval, even in the midst of doing “spiritual” activities.  But as the Word of God confronts and convicts me of these sinful tendencies, which is ultimately the uncovering of my personal hypocrisy, these moments are opportunities for me to humbly acknowledge the truth about myself, seek and receive God’s forgiveness, and realign my ways to that of Jesus.  Thus, this picture of Jesus as the source of truth that could possibly lead to people’s repentance is indeed the “good news of great joy for all the people,” including myself.

The Lord is righteous and holy, and mankind is unrighteous and unholy.  There is no peace between God and man because our relationship is broken by sin.  When the day of the Lord comes, that will be the time where God will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.  That will be the day where man’s darkness is completely exposed by God’s light.  The nature of true peace is that God and man are completely reconciled and that man is completely restored to what life was like before sin entered the picture.  Before, man was completely secure in his relationship with God, others, and himself such that although he was naked, he felt no shame (Genesis 2:25).  There is true peace within man at that point because life was without any sense of insecurity, alienation from God, hiding, inadequacy or competitiveness.  With God, there is no notion of scarcity because God and His provisions were everything man ever needed.  But after sin entered the picture, mankind has been struggling for affection, approval, and attention from all the wrong and temporary sources in this world, and because so, there hasn’t been peace.  There can only be peace when the sin that first divided God and man is dealt adequately, and this has only been done once and for all people in history through the cross of Jesus.

In my own life, I am without peace whenever I am caught up in my own ways of leaving the Father’s house of His unconditional love, where I end up wanting more than all that He has already given to me, and where I’ve chosen to strive and struggle for significance in this world because I listen to the lie which says that I can find peace if I have things like a stable career, a comfortable home, a full night’s rest, “enough” money in the bank (whatever that means), or if my husband and I are getting along, which usually means that he always bends to my preferences.  However, the more I strive for success and security in this world, the more I am without peace because the things of this world is not only temporary, will never satisfy my self-centered expectations.  There can only be peace in my life if the “I” in me dies; in other words, my sins need to be dealt by the cross of Jesus.

How does the following passage (specifically, vs. 21) resolve the paradox of human sinfulness and God’s rightful judgment of it?  i.e.,  given the reality of human sin and strife described in stanzas 2 and 3, how will the “angel’s song” be fulfilled?

2 Corinthians 5:17–21  

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

It’s the cross of Jesus that resolves the paradox of human sinfulness and God’s rightful judgment of it.  On the cross, God made Jesus, the righteous and holy Son of God, who had no sin to be sin for us so that as He died the death that He did on the cross for each of us, our sins would condemn us no more, and instead we might become the righteousness of God.  Jesus took the penalty that our sins deserve so that we might be reconciled to God.  The “woes of sin and strife,” the “years of wrong,” and “life’s crushing load,”—all of this and more were put on Jesus at the cross so that the angels’ song of “Peace on earth, good will to men” would be fulfilled.

Prayer

Heavenly Father,

Thank you so much for Jesus, who is the “good news of great joy” for all the people, including me.  I recognize that although I may live a seemingly decent and active Christian, I still fall so short of the glory of God.  Although on the outside I may be saying and doing the right things, you do see and know my heart.  You know of my own sins and strife, how I am the cause for my personal frustration.  I know that I also frustrate others because I am so self-centered. God, you knew how helpless I am to being reconciled to you.  You are fully light, and I am filled with darkness.  My only hope is that you would come down to do something about my sins.  And thankfully Your plan was to bring Jesus to this earth on Christmas day, and on the day of Good Friday, He bore my sins so that I might become the righteousness of God and be fully restored to you.  I recognize that I must come face to face with the truth of my hypocrisies and all the worldliness that still resides in me.  And so as Your words convict me of sin, I pray that I repent so that I may experience the good news of Jesus more personally each time.  I also pray that indeed true peace would be ushered in as a result.  May I not believe what the world tells me about personal striving as a way to achieve peace for myself in this world.  May I instead just be fully convinced that the only reason why I am without peace is because of my sin.  And for that, You have already provided the solution for my problem through Jesus’ death on the cross.  Father, thank You.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 Submitted by Dan N. from Gracepoint Davis Church

How does this picture of Jesus mesh with the angel’s proclamation of “good news of great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10)?

When we think about peace or good news, it is usually something good happening to us.  This seems to be in conflict with the picture in Matthew 23:27–33 due to the harshness which doesn’t make us feel good. Under this worldly definition of “good news,” what Jesus did seems like the opposite. It almost seems like the Pharisees are not included in this good news.  However, the proclamation of good news of great joy does mesh with Matthew 23 because the angel in Luke 2 is talking about a different type of good news. It is the news of restoring the broken relationship between God and man. This is greater and better news than anything good that can happen to us. The reason why Jesus was so harsh with the Pharisees in Matthew 23 is because he wanted them to repent and personally experience this real good news and peace. Sometimes this kind of correction is needed so that we can experience something greater. As I think about my life and look back at the corrections that I have received, initially receiving them were painful because of my pride. As I look back, I am thankful for the correction because it led me to repent which is good news in my life. Many times we want the world’s view of good news, but what really matters at the end of the day is the good news that my relationship with Jesus and other people are restored.

What is the nature of true peace?  How can there be peace between God and man?

True peace is the restoration of relationships, where sin is reversed. When sin entered the picture, peace is replaced by envy, lust, pride, and other forms of strife that cause the relationship between man and God and man and man to be broken. Only when sin is destroyed or reversed, true peace can be experienced in relationships.  As expressed in Isaiah 11, the wolf and the lamb live together and there will be no harm.  How can the relationship between God and man be restored and experience true peace? God is a holy God and he demands justice. Thus he will need to judge man for all their sins. So there can be no peace unless this judgment is exercised.  Only Jesus is able to make this peace between God and man. Before I became a Christian, I defined peace as being happy. By college, I had a lot of good things in life like friends, money to spend, and doing well in school which should make me happy. However, there was no peace within me because I was constantly envious of others and saw others as my competitors and even as enemies. There was no peace between me and another person. My relationships were shallow because of my envy.  I could never get close to other people. There was finally peace when I made a decision to accept Christ as my Lord and Savior. Through years of struggling with my envy and God using people in my life to help me to be free from it, I no longer see the people close to me as my competitor or enemy. I now see them as precious people.

How does the following passage (specifically, vs. 21) resolve the paradox of human sinfulness and God’s rightful judgment of it?  i.e.,  given the reality of human sin and strife described in stanzas 2 and 3, how will the “angel’s song” be fulfilled?

In 2 Corinthians 5:21, we see that the paradox of human sinfulness and God’s judgment is resolved through the sacrifice of Jesus. God had to make Jesus who had no sins to take our spot on the cross in order for his judgment to be satisfied. The reality of sin and strife described in stanzas 2 and 3 is a sad reality, but in stanza 4 there is hope. This hope is that Jesus is able to wipe away all the sin and strife. Even though we know that there is hope, at times we still get stuck in our sins and think our sins are special and no one understands or no one is able to help us. We get stuck in stanzas 2 and 3 where life is miserable and sad. But we have to remind ourselves that the song continues and there is a stanza 4 where there is hope. I need to remember that I experienced the hope in stanza 4, when Jesus came into my life and rescued me from the enslavement of my sins. This is the same God who can do the same for my current struggles as well. I still live in this world where stanzas 2 and 3 is a reality; however, I know stanza 4 is also a reality as I experienced a glimpse of that in my own life. I can’t wait when stanza 4 becomes a full reality.

Prayer

Lord, thank you for providing the ultimate good news and peace through Jesus. Thank you for restoring the relationship between you and me and man and man. It amazes me each time that the judge takes the spot of the offender. Because of what You have done, the song does not end at stanza 3 but there is a stanza 4 which gives me hope. I pray that I will never lose the joy from this good news.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Response