As through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.
The story of Christmas is not only a message about God’s great love for us, but it is also based on foundational facts. One fact on which the Christmas story is built is Christ’s atoning work.
Why did Jesus come to earth in human form? It was not just to teach us what we needed to be taught. It was not just to model what it means to follow God. The basic reason Jesus came to earth was to provide atonement for our sins. That was part of God’s plan from the very beginning. Remember what the angel said to Mary? “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Or remember the announcement that the angel made to the shepherds in the fields? “Today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Our greatest need was for salvation, so God sent a Savior.
How did Jesus’ death 2,000 years ago cover our sin? In Romans 5:19, Paul contrasted the one act of Adam that brought sin into the world with the one act of Jesus Christ that brought forgiveness into the world. He wrote, “As through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.” People say, “I don’t think it is fair that because of Adam’s sin, all of us are cursed for our sin.” If you think that is unfair, Paul said there is something even more unfair: that because of Jesus’ one act of obedience on the cross, all of us who trust in Him would be forgiven of our sins. That is the gospel message: when Jesus died on the cross, He took the punishment from God that you and I deserve for our sins.
A few years ago, I had to fly to Florida to do some television interviews a couple of days before Christmas. After a full day, I boarded the plane back to Dallas, eager to get home for Christmas. A law student named Doug sat down next to me. When Doug found out I was a pastor, he started to talk about spiritual things. Throughout our conversation, he said several times, “It has to be more than a coincidence that when I have been thinking about all these things, you appear here to answer my questions.” Finally, I said, “Doug, you are right. It is not a coincidence that I am sitting here. God has me here because He has a message for you. He wants you to know that He loves you so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for you so that you can have eternal life.” Doug smiled and said, “Pastor, just hearing that makes you feel good, doesn’t it?” As soon as he said that, a little girl about three rows back from us began to sing, “Hark! the herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn king; peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!’”
“God and sinners reconciled.” Just hearing that makes you feel good, doesn’t it? And do you know the best part of the Christmas message? It is really true.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “God In A Stable: Fact Or Fable?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.