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Imagine reading this on a Christmas Card:
The people of that time were being heavily taxed and faced every prospect of a sharp increase to cover expanding military expenses. The threat of world domination by a cruel, ungodly, power-intoxicated band of men was ever just below the threshold of consciousness. The moral deterioration had corrupted the upper levels of society and was moving rapidly into the broad base of the populace. The intense nationalistic feeling was clashing openly with new and sinister forms of imperialism. Conformity was the spirit of the age. Government handouts were being used with increasing lavishness to keep the population from rising and throwing out the leaders. Interest rates were spiraling upward in the midst of an inflated economy. External religious observances were considered a political asset, and abnormal emphasis was being placed upon sports and athletic competition. Racial tensions were at the breaking point. In such a time, and amid such a people, a child was born to a migrant couple who had just signed up for a fresh round of taxation, and who were soon to become political exiles. And the child who was born was called, among other things, Immanuel, God with us.
The Bible teaches how “the grace of God that brings salvation appeared to all men” (Tit 2:11) at just such a time, not unlike our own. Mankind has not changed, nor can he. And neither has his need for the unearned, soul-saving (Eph 2:8-9) and heart-regenerating (Tit 3:5) free gift of heaven bought and paid for by God’s own blood (Acts 20:28). And if ever we need to hear a message about the grace of God, it is today.
Jesus Christ was born in obscurity in a crowded village of Judea and laid in a feed trough. No one but his parents, some shepherds, and a few animals were witnesses to His birth. At 33, after a mere few years of itinerant preaching, never getting married nor having children or owning a home or much else of the things of this passing world, the tide of public opinion violently turned against Him. He was crucified and buried for three days in a borrowed tomb.
Over a month later, a small band of His followers publicly declared Him risen from the dead, and, among others, 500 witnesses testified of this fact (1 Cor 15:6). Four of his followers authored eyewitness-based accounts of His life and history of the fledgling movement, so found was published as a second volume. Twenty-one letters were delivered to others who regularly met in His name throughout the Roman Empire, and a final piece speaks of His glorious appearing a second time as King of kings and judge of the world!
To this day, Jesus Christ remains the most controversial figure ever to have lived, and His followers claim it is because of the appearance of the grace of God that their lives have such meaning and purpose. They believe they are freely saved from the penalty their sins deserve, and they await His return. Their lives have been transformed such that they live differently now than they ever could have before. To them, Jesus Christ is God, Lord, and Savior.
Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), the French Emperor, European Conqueror, and wanna-be ruler of the world who died in exile on the island of St. Helena, marveled at Jesus Christ, saying, “I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world, there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creation of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love, and at this hour, millions of men would die for Him.”
Do you love the grace of God that appeared at Christmas? Do you love the expectation of His second coming? For surely, He comes again with life and liberty to all who believe. His return, like His first coming, will also be at such a time as now, but then it will be the glorious appearance of the grace of God — our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.
Scriptures to Memorize: Titus 2:11-14
Pastor Chandler serves Victor Valley Bible Church at 16439 Hughes Road in Victorville. Services are held each Sunday at 10:15 a.m. and Live Streamed on Facebook. For more information, visit our website at www.victorvalleybiblechurch.org or email the pastor at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Victorville Daily Press: Pastor column: Jesus Christ created an empire based on love