In reading through the gospels, it has often struck me that throughout His ministry on earth Jesus healed many people, and only once did anyone question whether Jesus actually healed the person. In John 9 the Pharisees started investigating the man who was born blind. When they questioned him he said, “Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing” (9:32-33 ESV). In Matthew 12, Jesus didn’t even touch a man to heal his withered arm, and yet “the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, how to destroy Him” (14). They had no doubt that He was actually doing these things. In modern America we’re a lot more skeptical about such claims. However, belief in healing didn’t help the scribes and Pharisees one bit. They believed Jesus had the power to heal, but they thought it could not have come from God (Mark 3:22-30). Jesus reminded His disciples after His resurrection, “Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).
At Christmas time we hear a lot of vaguely Christian lingo about belief in Jesus as the “reason for the season.” I wonder though what some people are wanting us to believe in. For many it seems to be just the fact of a baby who was born and laid in a manger, nothing more or less. Some may add that the baby was born of a virgin and was sent by God. Some may get so far as saying Jesus was a great teacher. But the story is incomplete if we don’t believe that He died on a cross bearing our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3), was raised again for our justification (Romans 4:25), and will come again to judge the earth (John 12:48). But even that belief is incomplete if we don’t accept Him as our Savior and follow Him as Lord. If our belief has no impact on how we live our everyday lives, it is meaningless.
In Luke 13 Jesus said, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able… Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ But He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from Me, all you workers of evil!’” (24, 26-27). There will be those among us who say, “I came to church and heard the teachings; I took communion; I recited the Apostles’ Creed.” Those things are good, but they do not save.
The angels proclaimed to the shepherds, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). This is only good news for those who believe He is in fact the Savior and Lord. There is no promise of peace for everyone, but for “those with whom He is pleased” (Luke 2:14).
This Christmas let’s not leave Jesus in the manger or on the cross, but remember that He is now at the right hand of God, “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come” (Ephesians 1:21).
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18).
© 2019 Dawn Rutan. Image copyright free from pixabay.com. The opinions stated do not necessarily reflect the views of my church or employer.