Sunday, December 20, 2009

Calvary's Road....the Ultimate Journey

By David Jeremiah

One Sunday years ago as I was preaching about the Christmas story, I suggested that if we want a true picture of Christmas in our minds, we have to envision a cradle with the shadow of the cross looming over it. One of the ladies in the choir came up to me afterward and told me she was an illustrator who, during the previous Christmas, had put together a Christmas card like that. She had drawn a picture of the manger, and spreading over it was the shadow of a cross. Some people think this takes the romance out of Christmas. No, it puts the truth into it.

The road to Bethlehem ended up at Calvary. Jesus’ ultimate purpose in coming was to die for our sins and to be our Redeemer. I’m afraid we get so caught up in the external things of the season that we forget that the Babe of Bethlehem came into the world to be your Savior and mine. He was born in humanity and in humility so that He might ultimately become the sin bearer of the world on the cross. The prickly straw of the manger prefigured the nails that would one day pierce His skin.

Jesus was very aware of this, and one of the things we discover as we read the Gospels is that He wanted the entire world to know His mission. He repeatedly used a phrase that, it seems to me, is very significant. He kept saying, “I have come. . . .” I have come to do this, and to do this, and to do this. On thirteen occasions in the Gospels, Jesus used that phrase I have come . . .

This phrase presupposes our Lord’s preexistence. Jesus Christ is unlike any other person who has ever lived, in that He possesses a double nature. He is both God and man, fully divine and fully human. In Isaiah 9 the Messiah is called the Mighty God. John’s Gospel opens by saying, “The Word was God,” and it closes with Thomas declaring, “My Lord and my God.”

As God, Jesus has always existed and always will exist. He is eternal in the heavens. The prophet Micah told us that His comings and goings are from old, even from everlasting. But on that remarkable night in Bethlehem, God the Son took upon himself a second nature and became a human being. The Word became flesh.

Now, if Jesus Christ is the eternal God who intentionally became a man, that means His coming to earth was pre-planned. He himself designed His mission before His virgin birth. He was able to look down on this planet, see a great need, and say, “I am going to be born in order to meet that critical need.” And, having done so, we would expect Him to tell us the reason for such an indescribable wonder as this. Thus the importance of those three words that He repeatedly used: I have come. . . . He planned his trip in advance, chose the route, and deliberately took the Calvary Road.

He Came to Manifest the Father
First, Jesus came to manifest the Father. Jesus said in John 5:43, “I have come in My Father’s name.” As John 1:18 explains, “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” The Calvary Road is the greatest revelation of our heavenly Father’s love. He demonstrated His love for us in that though we are hell-bound sinners, Christ died for us that through Him we might be reconciled to the God whom He manifests.

The Presbyterian preacher, Clarence Macartney, once said that when he was growing up, his family and his church didn’t sing hymns; they only sang the Psalms of David. “But,” he added, “whenever my father was in a particularly good humor—when his work in the study was over or things had gone well at the college—he used to whistle the tune of a hymn. It was always the same tune, ‘There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood.’”

Jesus came to represent the Father’s love by dying on Calvary’s Cross, giving us a song in our hearts so that our very souls want to whistle about it, for there is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins. Christ is heaven’s great ambassador who came to manifest the Father and reconcile us to God.

He Came to Preach a Message
Second, Jesus came to preach a message. We read in Mark’s Gospel that one day in Capernaum, Jesus rose early in the morning and hiked into the nearby mountains to pray. When the disciples found Him, they wanted Him to return with them to the village, but Jesus replied, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth” (1:38).

For this purpose I have come—to preach, to proclaim a message. It’s the message of the Calvary Road. It’s the Gospel, and the word “Gospel” literally means the Good News, the Good Tidings. This is one of the Bible’s best and most wonderful terms, yet it still seems like an understatement to me.

If you were trapped in a collapsed cave, running out of air, shut in claustrophobic darkness, only minutes away from death and you heard workmen breaking through the rubble to rescue you, would you say, “Well, that’s good news”?

If you were struggling to pay your bills, wondering how you were going to make ends meet, and an attorney informed you that an unknown relative left you twenty million dollars, would you call that “good news”?

If you were on a hospital bed, connected to tubes and monitors dying of a terrible, loathsome disease, and the doctor came in and said, “We’ve just discovered a little pill. Swallow this and you’ll be healed.” Would that be “good news”?

Here we are, poverty-stricken sinners, separated from God by our imperfections, trapped on a doomed planet, dying, facing death and judgment and hell. Yet because He loved us, God himself became a man who willingly traveled the Calvary Road in our place that we might be forgiven of our sins and receive eternal life.

Is that Good News?

It’s more than good news, but we don’t have a word in our vocabulary adequate to describe it. The angels just put it like this: “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (emphasis added).

He Came to Enrich Our Lives
Finally, He came to enrich our lives. John 10:10 says, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

In New York State, there are two cities that draw water from nearby mountains. One of the cities depends on a lake which tends to dry up in times of drought, forcing the city to issue water emergencies and pass all sorts of laws about water usage. But the other city gets its water supply from a lake in the Catskills that never goes dry. It is fed by underground streams, and that city never worries about having enough water. They could never exhaust the lake.

So many of us, even as Christians, forget that we have an endless supply of grace. We have an endless supply of joy. We have an endless supply of peace. We don’t have to worry about our spiritual reserves, but we’ve got to tap into them by faith. If we’re committed to Christ and walking in the Spirit, we have an ocean of God’s blessing to draw from every day. We have life in abundance because of the Calvary Road.

Someone once said that in Great Britain, all roads lead to London. For Christ, all roads led to Calvary. From Bethlehem’s Road to Egypt’s Road to the route through Galilee and on to Jerusalem, He set His face like a flint to tread the Calvary Road. That was His ultimate mission, and He never forgot His purpose. He repeatedly said, “I have come . . . I have come . . . I have come . . .” He was ever about His Father’s business.

And because Jesus said, I have come . . . , we can sing: Joy to the world. The Lord has come. Let earth receive Her king . . . Let every heart prepare Him room.

Has your heart prepared Him room? Is there room in your heart for Jesus? He invites us to take the straight and narrow road, the way of the Cross, and to follow Him with all our hearts. Will you do that this Christmas?
Dr. David Jeremiah, is the founder of Turning Point Radio and Television Ministries and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church, San Diego Carlifornia

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