Because of Bethlehem There is Hope
- Max Lucado Pastor and Author
- 2016 15 Dec
Perhaps Christmas Is Difficult for You
God understands. He’s been here. If he was willing to be born in a barnyard, then expect him to be at work anywhere. No place is too common. No person is too hardened. No distance is too far. There is no limit to his love.
The Miracle of Bethlehem
Out of chaos, Christ came. In spite of, and out of, the pandemonium, Christ came.
On a cold night in Bethlehem, Joseph built a fire and heated water. Mary cleared a spot on the straw and set about the task of bringing God into the world. With cows as her witnesses and Joseph as her midwife, she did just that. It wasn’t long before the hand of the star hanger clutched Mary’s finger. The feet of the sky walker lay in Joseph’s palm.
In that moment Mary knew it was all worth it. The ache in her back, the ache in her heart—they faded away. The questions of how, and the wonderings of when—they didn’t linger. The surprise pregnancy, the sudden census, the long road from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Unpleasant and difficult, yet they resulted in the world’s greatest miracle. Was the first Christmas different from what Mary had planned? Yes, but it turned out greater than she could have dreamed. God used the struggles to accomplish his will.
Don’t you need that reminder? Despite the chaos of the first Christmas, everything happened according to God’s plan. In your world of short nights, hard work, and high stress, remember that God holds everything together for his glory and for the good of those who love him.
Love Is Born, Hope Is Here
When Christ was born, so was our hope.
Because Christ came, God is always near us. He is always for us and always in us. Jesus entered our world not like a human but as a human, and he endured everything that we do and more—God became human down to his very toes.
Jesus understands what you feel and has faced what you face. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin.
Because of Bethlehem’s miracle, you can answer these fundamental questions: Does God care if I’m sad? Look at the tear-streaked face of Jesus as he stands near Lazarus’s tomb (John 11:28–44). Does God know if I’m ignored or rejected? Find the answer in the compassionate eyes of Christ as he stands to defend the adulterous woman (John 8:1–11).
Jesus knows the burden of a broken heart. He could have come to us as a shining light or a voice in the clouds, but he came as a person. If you ever wonder whether God truly understands you, remember that he sent his only Son, Jesus, to bear your burdens and save you from your sins.
Hope in the Savior
The Christmas promise is this: We have a Savior and his name is Jesus.
Each one of us entered the world with a sin nature. Even under the right circumstances you will do the wrong thing. You won’t want to, but you will. The Bible says that “sin came into the world through one man (Adam), and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).
But the good news—the reason for hope this Christmas and every day of your life—is that Jesus entered the world to save you from your sins. Those who trust in Jesus have been saved from the guilt of sin, are being saved from the problems of sin, and, upon the return of Christ, will be saved from the punishment for sin.
“God . . . loved us and sent His unique Son on a special mission to become an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Jesus took on our sin. By his death on the cross, he endured what we should have endured and paid the price to save us.
“When we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6)
“Christ . . . died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.” (1 Peter 3:18)
You aren’t good enough to save yourself from sin. You aren’t strong enough to save yourself from death. You need a Savior, and because of Bethlehem, you have one.
Never Too Late
It’s never too late to come to the Savior for help.
Just like the innkeeper had the chance to open the door for Mary and Joseph, many still miss the opportunity to come to Jesus for help. They let the birth of Jesus pass them by and ignore his offer of salvation. But missing a message from God is a mistake you don’t want to make.
You are never too old, too messed up, or too worn out to come to Christ for help. Your stack of sins is never too high, and your list of failures is never too long.
When Christ was born, so was our hope. By sending his Son Jesus, God did away with every barrier, fence, sin, debt, and grave. Anything that might keep us from him was demolished. All you have to do is open the door and invite him in.
Max Lucado (MA, Abilene Christian University) serves as the minister of preaching at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, and is a best-selling author and speaker. His award-winning books have been translated into more than fifty-four languages and he has been named one of the most influential leaders in social media by The New York Times. Max lives in San Antonio, Texas, with his wife, Denalyn, and has three daughters and one granddaughter.
Image courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: December 15, 2016