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It occurs to me that, in a sense, Jesus actually gave up his life for me twice. First, he released his entitlement, as an equal person of the trinity, to perfect intimacy with Father. Just becoming a human, experiencing a change in nature, enduring nine months inside a human mother and living as one of us was an unnatural and extraordinary decrease. He willingly took on my existence – days with glimpses of light and life that cheered but quickly ceded to encroachment of the inescapable dark end waiting.  Then, after three decades of living as a son, a brother and a friend, Jesus walked through a field thick with fear and agony, disappointment and treachery to finally step into that same dark end for no other purpose than to secure my rescue.

Sometimes I ponder what my life, my future, the lives of my family and friends would look like if Jesus had refused to descend (his birth) or to descend again (his death). Then I realize I already know:  the same as it was before, temporary sparks in hopeless darkness.  Still, if his path ended there, in death, my hope is false, his promises and proclamations merely dust in the air around me, reflecting fading light.  The rescue was only completed when he again opened his eyes, breathed a new breath free of the cross and the grave and obliterated death’s grasp.

His light has not just cut through the darkness; it has erased it.  Jesus didn’t bring hope for life, he brought life forever, with him – permanent life!

Thank you, Jesus. Thank you!

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1:5

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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I imagine Jesus was temporarily blinded, as all newborns are, when his new eyes were overwhelmed for the first time by the light he created.

    I imagine as cold, hunger, and being touched all newly assailed Jesus’ nerves, the voices of his parents were a tether to faith.

    I imagine Jesus considered me when he first experienced wanting to quit and give up his difficult task and persevered for my sake.

    I imagine Jesus wept deeply as he stroked his father, Joseph’s, cheek and held his hand for the last time, because knowledge was never meant to dispel grief.

    I imagine when John recognized him at the river, Jesus’ eyes met his, and both of them, joyfully and with awe, could feel what was about to take place.

    I imagine the nature and duration of Jesus’ testing in the desert by the tempter stretched beyond what his human thoughts had expected.

    I imagine Jesus silently leapt with joy upon meeting Simon, his first intimate human friend and brother-to-be.

    I imagine, while Jesus deeply desired his cup removed from his hand in the garden, he knew it was his cup, and more deeply desired to drink it.

    I imagine Jesus felt a certain relief on the cross, for the cycle of his body’s death had begun; but he did not embrace the relief, because there was still a little work, a few last pushes through the agony before setting his tools on the bench, blowing away the chips and pronouncing my heart’s redemption finished.

    As I prepare for Jesus coming this Advent and Christmas, I find myself considering the fragile anticipation of the Jews, the breathless awe of Joseph and Mary, and the millions of pleading prayers and fading hopes of multiple generations being answered in one infant’s cry.

    I’m considering how faithful the Father must be to follow through with his plan to rescue me in light of so much sin.

    I’m considering if I had been one of those in the vicinity of his birth: Would I have recognized the significance of the new bright star; would I have listened – past the terror and exposing presence of the angelic host – to the announcement of pure joy; would I have invited this strange, rather unkempt, expecting couple into my home? I hope I would, but I’m just not sure. Yet, in that uncertainty, amidst that strange blend of hopeful doubt, he smiles, reaches out and caresses my chin gently with soft, newborn fingers, and my fears abruptly come to nothing, drowned by light. The only one who can justly condemn my sin has tenderly touched me instead.

    Wishing you a Merry Christmas filled with Jesus’ touch.

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