“JESUS CAME TO DIE”. How many times have you heard that? That line is probably uttered by thousands of preachers at Christmas services around the world. People come together to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but just in case they celebrate it too much?, they are reminded, “Jesus came to die.”
Like most things there are elements of real truth in that statement. But I would like to propose that Christ actually came to live! In the man Jesus we see for the first time a man who lived in total and utter union with God- as a total and utter man! Last night my son and I were watching an animated Jesus movie (he asked to watch it). Usually I am not a big man of these flicks, but this one was reasonably good. But one thing that haunted this movie, as it does in most “Jesus” films, is the “other worldliness” of Jesus. When he comes into a scene the music changes- it becomes soft and surreal. When Jesus comes into a scene he comes so calm and collected- almost slow-motion like. He doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the humans.
Now, Jesus was different from other humans, but in this way- He lived in union with God as His Father. He did not live a life of selfishness and sin. But he was so human. He did not walk around with a heavenly soundtrack of Angels “ahhhhs” accompanied by harpsichords. He did not have a bright halo over his head. He was not uncomfortable in deep human situations. He was quite himself. God and man.
And it is this life we must pay attention too. We must not discard it too quickly in our quest to exalt the importance of the cross. The cross was important because it removed the veil that separates us from that life that Christ lived- the life of a human in union with God. But the death and resurrection of Jesus are events, and only gain their importance from the people involved: God the Father, and the man Jesus of Nazareth.
In his life Christ showed us what it looks like to live in God. In his words he spoke to us the law of his kingdom (not the legalistic one, but the one of freedom and liberty). In his actions he showed us the practical expressions that will come out of a life lived in union with God.
His life indeed leads to his death. But his death leads to his life. A life no longer isolated in the man Jesus, but a life that is available to all who follow in the way of Jesus and come to know God as their Father.
Folks, Jesus did not die to bring you to heaven one day. He lived, and died, and lives to bring heaven into earth today in and through you. And because of this, his life, his words, and his teachings have great relevance and meaning for us today. May He help us to behold him and give heed to his life once again.