Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Christmas Jesus That Preaches Repentance

I love the Advent story in the Gospel of Mark.  Jesus arrives and says, “The time has come, the Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news,” (1:15).  In other words, “Check yourself! The Son of God is looking you in the eye. Pledge your undying allegiance to me!” Mark does not mention the birth or childhood of Jesus. He allows Matthew and Luke to fill in that information.  He doesn’t wax theologically about the Word incarnate.  He leaves that to John.  Mark instead announces a grown up Son of God who proclaims God’s authority, demands repentance, and imparts the Holy Spirit. This not-so-cuddly Jesus is just as much a part of the Christmas story as the baby Jesus introduced in the other gospels.

Mark’s Christmas message is different than what we hear at the mall.  The scene is set at the mall: everyone adores the sweet baby Jesus because He is as cute as a cabbage patch doll (a great stocking stuffer for your daughter, on sale for only $49.99 at Toys R US). Seldom does the mall’s depiction of the Christmas story tell the rest of the story. It doesn’t mention the perfect God of the Old Testament. It doesn’t mention human sin and the death that sin causes. It doesn’t mention that because God became human in Jesus Christ, God has conquered sin and death! That little, wonderful baby holds the keys to the world’s salvation!  The mall doesn’t share that message. It might be bad for business.

At Faith Center, don’t let the mall’s portrayal of Christmas change the Christian’s portrayal of Christmas. This Christmas, don’t let your worship stop at the historical fact that Jesus of Nazareth was born a couple of millennia ago.  Let the reason WHY Jesus came penetrate your life. Whether you are a new convert or lifelong believer, take Mark’s good news to heart. Jesus Christ is Lord of heaven and earth. He is declaring the closeness of His Kingdom. He is calling you to repentance. Believe His good news and follow Him.  Jesus will save you.  Merry Christmas!

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