Once upon a time there was a beggar who lived in a shack. A beggar whose heart was so dark it could dull the glow of the brightest star in the heavens. He lived in Jerusalem. Perhaps you have heard of His splendor, His servants, His armies, gardens, and trees—every possible trapping and trinket to exalt him above his peers. The Queen of Sheba nearly fainted at the sight of his treasures. But he was a beggar. A beggar who lived in a shack. A man whose heart was so dark with sin and guilt that he was utterly unworthy of the attention of the One who crowned him with such privilege and bounty. He deserved great punishment. Yes, such was Solomon in the presence of the King of Kings. As the candle loses its light in the beams of the sun, so Solomon’s splendor dims in the radiance of His Maker and Benefactor. And not a sliver of his fame and fortune satisfied his soul. “All is vanity,” he cried.
Nonetheless, Solomon was the best of the best by earthly standards. Today’s billionaires are amateurs, lacking Solomon’s wisdom and character, and certainly lacking the relative value of His kingdom and toys. Yet, Solomon was, shall we say, a mess. By God’s standard of righteousness, every child of Adam shares Solomon’s moral messiness.
And speaking of Adam, he exalted the lies of a slimy serpent over the word of His perfect and loving Creator. A crime so evil it brought death and put the entire world under a curse. We scowl at Adam for this, yet who among us can say we have not imitated his contempt of God’s goodness and authority? The world, it seems, cannot sleep unless it does Adam one better in biting the benevolent hand that gives them every good thing to enjoy. To provide examples would belabor the obvious. The greater difficulty lies in finding examples of where God and His Word are rightly honored. For, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” to an extent we scarcely appreciate. All this paints an unflattering picture, but an accurate account of what Scripture means when it says the world lies in deep darkness. A deep, deep darkness. But God would send a Light.
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. (Isaiah 9:2 KJV)
And this Light will never dim. Who, then, is this Light? And how could He rescue the likes of us?
Our condition was indeed hopeless. Only God could save us. And even with His limitless power and wisdom, He would need radical measures to get us to heaven. He would infinitely humble Himself to be one of us, to live with us, to stand in our place and meet the strict requirements for eternal life. And this He did. He came down, born of a virgin, weak in the body and soul of our humanity, but bearing the dazzling white armor of His perfect holiness. And with a heart aflame with love for His beloved in distress, the daring and righteous Savior overcame the greatest of enemies to save her.
Indeed, His love for us began before time and the world. And unlike the objects of our love, with features, form, and demeanor that appear beautiful to the beholder, the object of this Savior’s affection was hideous and deformed, with a heart of malice and disgust for everything He holds dear. We gladly accepted His earthly gifts, but kicked and spat at His advances, insulted His faultless virtue, and spurned His acts of love. But He loved us still. He pursued us as we fled, and suffered to woo His unworthy and homely bride until He gained our heart and hand. Through fire, rain, temptation, agony, and death, He purchased our eternal and immeasurable happiness. And because He cannot relax His perfect justice, He paid our debt for sin on the cross, at infinite cost to Himself. He bore our penalty on His soul. And as we were unfit for the purity and majesty of His kingdom, He washed away our filth and covered us with a beautiful robe of righteousness—His very own righteousness—purchased for us by His perfect life in our place, given to us freely. He will take us from this evil land and bring us to a heavenly home—a kingdom. We will dine with the King at His table as an intimate member of His family, as the bride of His beloved Son. He will make us a sight to behold, with a beauty and splendor beyond the glory of the stars of heaven, reflecting the holy grandeur of our Bridegroom. Our happiness will be without limit or end. Our eternity will be glorious beyond measure. Thanks be to God for this priceless gift.
May gratitude and joy fill our hearts this Christmas season, and every season, as we ponder our salvation, and as we celebrate and worship our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
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© 2021 Craig Biehl, author of God the Reason, The Box, The Infinite Merit of Christ, and Reading Religious Affections
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