William J. Stewart
At times I like to hear a good story. Exciting tales of adventure, of love, of courage and bravery. Stories of good, down to earth people doing extraordinary things, not for their own benefit, but that of others. But much more, there is a story that I love to tell, for it is more meaningful and nobler than any other. It is the story of a King, who left His royal palace, gave up His glorious power, and dwelt with the peasants. The story of a King, whose love for the commoners surpassed that of any parent for a child, or of a husband for a wife. The story of a King, who was willing to stand trial, be found guilty (though He was not), and pay the penalty for His people, that they might be freed from their bondage. The story of a King, who overcame all forces that would come before Him, even that of death. The story of a King, whose name is Jesus.
The apostle John appropriately begins the story by writing, “…the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Think about that! “…The Word became flesh…” The King left His palace. Jesus left the comforts of heaven to join mankind on the face of the earth. Paul writes of Jesus saying, “…who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.” May we never take lightly what Jesus did for us. Imagine leaving your nice comfortable home, taking off your fine brand name garments and dawning rags. Then, go out to live with those less fortunate on the streets. He did this, and much more.
We drive past them daily, and think , “How awful. The poor folks.” They have nowhere to sleep, no money to buy food with. Sometimes barely enough clothing to keep covered. No warm meal to go home to. No caring friends and family to console them. Jesus looked down from on high, and He saw a race of such people. No, not physically underclothed and malnourished, but spiritually. A people who wandered aimlessly in rags. Once they wore dazzling clothing, glistening white, but now, soiled and threadbare. Covered head to toe with the crimson of sin stains. Jesus saw all of mankind, having no place of rest and comfort, no bread with which they could be fed. Thus, seeing the nature of their condition, He had to do something. He had to clothe them and feed them with the clothing and food from above.
Picture the following in your mind. A child under the watchful eye of his father frolics in the water at the beach. The sun shines brightly, a gentle breeze fills the air. The child joyfully plays, not noticing that he is slowly moving away from shore. His feet and arms tire, and no longer can bear the load. He is over his head, and has trouble staying above the surface. An eddy catches the boy, and he goes under for good. The father notices the desperation of the child. Does he leave the child to fend for himself? Certainly not! The father does all that is in his power to save the child, even if it means losing his own life. The child is pulled to shore a lifeless corpse. The father breathes life back into his son. Do you understand? Do you follow the analogy? Do you see yourself? Do you see your Father? He looked down from heaven, and all mankind was drowning. Each of us had been caught in an eddy, and were pulled under by the power of sin. As a father cannot leave his son to drown, neither can the Creator leave His creation to be swallowed up by the murky waters of sin. Thus, He saved us. At a great cost — He saved us.
The letter to the Hebrews states, “…it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” If you are familiar with the Old Testament, you will remember that a sin offering was to be offered year after year for the people. But there was a problem, it could not take the sins of the people away. There was need for a better plan. The writer again pens, “For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another.” There was need for another covenant, and along with the new covenant, another sacrifice. Thus, God provided. He became the sacrifice for our sins. He allowed Himself to become the sacrificial Lamb, bearing our sins for us. The prophet writes, “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes, we are healed.”
If ever a story of adventure, love, courage, and bravery existed, this Carpenter from Galilee provided it. Unwavering faithfulness to the Father… “…Tempted as we, yet without sin…” Hailed by the people as King and Messiah… Earnest prayer in the garden… “…Not My will, but Your will…” Sweat like great drops of blood… Betrayed by a kiss… Forsaken by all… Unlawfully treated… Denied thrice before the rooster’s crow… Falsely accused… Tried by the council — “guilty!” Beaten and mocked… Tried by Pilate — “not guilty!” Reviled and taunted by soldiers… The Jewish people, “His blood be upon us and our children…” Then they led Him away to be crucified… Shame and hostility… Piercing nails… Tortuous pain… Hung on a tree… Wonderful words of forgiveness… The King dying for His people… The King, dying a wicked death, for the wicked, with the wicked… Revilings and blasphemy… Promise of paradise… “My God, My God. Why have You forsaken Me?” Your sins, my sins, all sins, on Him… Then He breathed His last… Buried… Three days… An empty tomb… “Why seek the living with the dead?” He is risen… Alive, no more to die… “Where O death is your sting? Where O grave is your victory?”
No doubt, the greatest story ever told. The story (and reality) of God, who became Man, and died to save mankind. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes on Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” A story of hope and love. A story of honour and service. A story for your and I. As the song writer says,
“I love to tell the story, T’will be my theme in glory;
To tell the old, old story, Of Jesus and His love.