CHORUS: Rejoice, o world, your Savior has come
Through the love of a virgin’s womb
Son of God, Son of man, born that we may have life
You were born that we may have life
Verse 2: A throne in a manger, the cross in a cradle
The hidden revealing this glorious plan
Of a Child who would suffer, a Child who would conquer
The sin of every woman, the sin of every man
REPEAT CHORUS – Chris Tomlin, Born That We May Have Life, from the 2009 album “Glory in the Highest: Christmas Songs of Worship”
You know, of all the disciples, I tend to identify the most with the one Jesus called Peter. His real name is Simon and he’s a former fisherman turned follower of the Christ. He has a brother, Andrew, who also used to fish but who also one of the original twelve. Peter’s life can be a roller coaster: up one minute (like when he declares Jesus to be the Messiah and the Son of God) and lows (like we’re about to examine in this chapter).
Peter must have been feeling pretty good after his pronouncement because he received high praise from Jesus, who said He would build His church through this disciple’s life. What a great honor. From lowly, stinky fisherman to founder of the eternal family of God. Wow. No one else was ever going to get this distinction in human history. If I had been Peter, my pride would be soaring sky high.
And then comes the (seemingly) inevitable crash back down to earth. Peter sticks his foot in his mouth big time. First he is praised by Jesus and now he is being disciplined; chastised even. In front of everybody. How humiliating. What exactly happened?
After Peter says out-loud that he believes Jesus in the Son of the one true God, this same Jesus begins a peculiar habit of predicting that bad things are going to happen to Him. Specifically, that during an upcoming trip to Jerusalem, He would suffer horrible treatment and be killed by the religious elite I know the Pharisees and their gang aren’t exactly Team Jesus, but to actually kill Him? Paranoid much? What a “downer” of a message. Who wants to hear that? And not just once, but over and over? Why don’t we get back to the nice, tidy parables and healing people and just move on from all this doom and gloom?
I’m sure it became disconcerting to the disciples. I mean, no one wants to see their leader and friend exterminated. So Peter speaks up, trying to protect Jesus and cheer Him up. This famous disciple says such a thing should never happen to the Son of God! He even uses the expression, “Heaven forbid!”
So what is the problem with this?
In His wilderness temptations, Satan had told Jesus that He could achieve greatness without dying (4:9), but the problem is that Jesus was born to die. It’s literally the reason He came to earth and took on flesh. You see, without His death to pay for our sins, all of mankind is lost; eternally separated from God. It’s something that happened shortly after creation. Pastor Max Lucado writes something to the effect that as the apple core was hitting the ground in the Garden of Eden, Jesus was in heaven making preparations for His time on earth. You see, only the perfect man can pay the price for all of human-kind’s imperfection. Jesus was telling His disciples part of THE PLAN and they were having none of it. That’s why Jesus responds the way He does to Peter. He calls him Satan and tells him to basically get out of His way.
He tells Peter his perspective is not an eternal one, and that’s the only one that counts in this scenario. It must have felt like a slap in the face to the disciple. His good intentions were, in fact, paving the way to hell.
You see, the eternal perspective always needs to take precedence. So when Jesus shares that perspective with His disciples, or with us, we need to pay close attention to it no matter what it looks like. Even if it seems downright painful, unpleasant, undesirable, and ugly. In the light of eternity, it’s our saving grace. Unlike Peter, we need to be willing to travel that road and not try to slide off the path.
If you are already a follower, you know that sometimes life gets downright awful and miserable at times. It’s not always fun. It’s not always pretty. It can feel like hell. But we need to remember the bigger picture which, in all honesty, we may not see at the moment. Hang in there. I say this for myself as much as for anybody who’s read this far because in the moment, I tend to focus on all the pain and unpleasantness. And like Peter, all I want to do is escape and get back to happier times.
If you’re not a follower, that’s ok. You can change your mind on that at any moment. I just wouldn’t advise waiting very long because life is a funny thing: we never know when it’s about to run out. Sometimes it ends quite unexpectedly and unforeseeably. If you ever do decide this Jesus guy is pretty interesting and maybe worth living like, just be forewarned it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. Chances are, it may be quite dark. The only good news is that even if it is you now don’t go through any of it alone. Jesus is right there – for all the good and for all the bad. We can turn to Him at any time and give our grief to Him. He promises to carry the load with us. If that sounds like something you want to do, message me in the comments or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. It would be my honor to share with you exactly how to ask Jesus to walk with you.
This is a great time of year for it. In fact, He’s the reason for the season. Go back and read chapters 1-3 of this blog. While Jesus wasn’t born in the month we came to know as December, we do celebrate His birth. The really cool thing about this God is that He took on flesh and lived among us for several decades. He literally was born so that we may have life. The pastor I mentioned earlier, Max Lucado, wrote an entire book about it and it’s very neat to read. It’s called God Came Near and you can find it on Amazon or wherever you buy your books.
Anyway, message me if you want. Say Hi. Let me know what’s up in your life. I’d like to know. After all, if you read this blog at all you hear about me enough. I’d like to hear about you. And while we’re at it – share your eternal perspective. A perspective you can only have with Jesus because He’s the only one that gives it. Merry Christmas.