Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Communion Meditation

This is an unusual time of year to bring to memory the death of our Lord Jesus Christ – a time of year when we also celebrate his birth. Indeed, this week we glory both in his birth and in his death. How should we approach our weekly remembrance at this time of year?

It is estimated that Jesus Christ fulfilled over 3000 Messianic prophecies – predictions about him that came true through his birth, his life, and his death. No other period in history contained so much fulfilled prophecy, and no man’s life was ever more predicted by others. That is because the life and death of Jesus Christ are the most important things which have ever happened in history.

I sincerely want to study all 3000 prophecies, and I hope to do so in time. I’m funny that way, but to me, seeing these predictions fulfilled over and over makes Jesus even more real to me. But, instead of doing a study of all 3000 prophecies for this week’s meditation time (you may breathe a collective sigh), I decided to look at one of the earliest ones.

In Deuteronomy 18:15-18, the Bible says:

“The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. For this is what you asked of the LORD your
God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, "Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die."

The LORD said to me: "What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.”

God tells us that he will raise up a future prophet, one who will be like Moses. If you look at all of the prophets in the Bible, you will find that no other life comes as close to the similarities of Jesus as the life of Moses. Both were delivered from death as babies, both performed miracles, both were leaders, both mediated between God and man, and both offered to die in order to forgive the sins of the people.

Recall that when Moses was born, the king of Egypt had ordered all of the midwives to kill any boys born to Hebrew women. But the midwives disobeyed, and his mother put in motion a plan to rescue him and deliver him to none other than the royal court of Egypt. Twelve-hundred years later, in a fury over being outwitted by the Magi, King Herod condemned to death all of the baby boys born in Bethlehem. Jesus managed to escape. Both little babies were saved from evil kings.

Just as striking, both Moses and Jesus made an offer to die for the atonement of other’s sins. In Exodus 32:30-33, after Moses discovers that the people had built a golden calf to worship, we are told this:

‘The next day Moses said to the people, "You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin."

So Moses went back to the LORD and said, "Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written."’

However, God chose not to accept Moses’ offer. He had other plans to save the people from their sins.

Which brings us to one major difference between these two prophets - Moses and Jesus Christ. When Jesus made the offer to be an atoning sacrifice, God allowed it to happen – because it was His plan to do so all along. Why Jesus instead of Moses? Because of one other distinctive difference between the two – the sacrifice is so much more meaningful when the offering is the Son of God himself.

And so, while we study the story of Moses on occasion and recall his life – we meet every week to think of Jesus and remember his death.

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time.... (Romans 3:21-26)

Merry Christmas!