Mark’s Gospel doesn’t begin with the Christmas Story. There is no manger, no baby Jesus, no shepherds and magi. Instead, Mark begins with these words:
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
In week 1 of Christianity Explored, Rico Tice makes it clear that Christianity is the gospel, or good news, about Jesus Christ. While gospel means good news, those simple words don’t do it justice. It’s the kind of news that makes people dance in the streets and hug complete strangers; it’s like the announcement that war is finally over. It’s that good!
When you come to the Christmas Story, if you don’t see it as the best news you have ever heard, then maybe you’ve never understood why Jesus came, and thus you have never understood what Christmas is all about.
When Jesus spoke of why he came, he spoke of coming to rescue rebels, those that are in rebellion against the rightful king of the universe.
In Mark 2:17 Jesus said,
I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.
That applies to all of us, because all of us regularly worship and serve other things more than we love and worship God.
And this sin, this rebellion, is serious. Jesus said that it is better to lose a hand, a foot, or an eye that causes us to sin rather than to suffer the just consequences of our sin, which is hell. (Mark 9:43-48)
The problem is that even if we were to cut off a hand, a foot, or an eye that causes us to sin, as Rico says, the knife would never go deep enough. As Jesus says in Mark 7:21, the ultimate source of our sin is our deepest self, described in the Bible as the heart.
Jesus came to deal with our separation from God that comes as a result of our sin. He says in Mark 10:45, “ For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” The Apostle Paul makes it even more clear in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
On the cross, Jesus took our sin and gave us his righteousness. The rebels were rescued. That was symbolized by what happened in the Temple at the moment when he died on the cross. The moment he died, the thick curtain in the Temple that separated God from his people was torn in two from top to bottom. It was torn from the top – meaning God tore it.
God and sinners reconciled!
That’s why Jesus came, and that’s why Christmas is the beginning of the best news we have ever heard! Merry Christmas!!