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Peace, Love, & Joy | Replacing the Shadows | Christmas Special | Devotional Series | Part 13 of 27 | December 12, 2019

Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.” – Hebrews 8:1-2 (ESV)

The Old Testament had men riddled with a rigid legal system to attain holiness. It was ordained by God, and ministered by men. In other words, the priest who interceded for the masses was a human being. And so, he had limitations. He would first offer sacrifices for his sins, and then the sins of the others. Moreover, he would repeat this process every time he seeks the presence of the Holy God. The Book of Hebrews wonderfully emphasizes, how Christ (by His death and resurrection) has not only fulfilled these legal requirements, but He has also ended it. He is therefore, a priest not in the order of a flawed humanity, but in accordance to His own righteousness and holiness. Indeed, how hope inducing it is that the scripture says, “(He) is a minister… in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man” (Heb 8:2, ESV)

I am reminded of the joyful, hope-inducing conclusion the Apostle John drew. And I quote: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth… For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” (Jn 1:14, 16, ESV) How wonderful is that. The glory of God, in its fullness has been revealed to us through His son Jesus Christ. And the fullest extent of His grace for our complete salvation, in His death and resurrection. What Christian, born-again in the Holy Spirit will not rejoice over that? It is indeed impossible. Let us ponder upon the immaculate inception of Christ this season, through whom we could not just witness, but received the fullness of life.

As a way of concluding, I want to leave you with a wonderful illustration from Piper – this is the joy of seeing the fulness of Christ (that we associate with this season).

Here’s an Advent illustration for kids (and for those of us who used to be kids and remember what it was like). Suppose you and your mom get separated in the grocery store, and you start to get scared and panic and don’t know which way to go, and you run to the end of an aisle, and just before you start to cry, you see a shadow on the floor at the end of the aisle that looks just like your mom. It makes you really happy and you feel hope. But which is better? The happiness of seeing the shadow, or having your mom step around the corner and seeing that it’s really her? That’s the way it is when Jesus comes to be our High Priest. That’s what Christmas is. Christmas is the replacement of shadows with the real thing.” (pg. 26)


Note: All of Piper’s quotations are from “Good News of Great Joy


Read previous entries in this Series:

(i) Introduction: What Christ wants this Christmas (ii) December 1: Prepare the Way (iii) December 2: Mary’s Magnificent God (iv) December 3: The Confidence of Redeeming Hope (v) December 4: A Big God for Little People (vi) December 5: What He Willed to do (vii) December 6: Peace to those with whom He is pleased (viii) December 7: Messiah of all (ix) December 8: Christ is Central in Christmas(x) December 9: Two Kinds of Oppositions (xi) December 10: Our Treasure (xii) December 11: Why Jesus came

Peace, Love, & Joy | Why Jesus came | Christmas Special | Devotional Series | Part 12 of 27 | December 11, 2019

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” – Hebrews 2:14-15 (ESV)

Why Jesus came? The answer to that question is perhaps, a little long to fit in a devotional format. But there are certain crucial points that we can make, without losing the essence of the whole answer. And those points will perhaps be beneficial to meditate upon, in this short devotional.

First, He came for His elect. “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood” (Heb 2:14, ESV) These are the elect of God. (Isa 8:18, Eph 1:4, Jn 15:16) The children here, means the elect. He came to gather His children, both from within the chosen race of Abraham (Jews) and from abroad (Gentiles).

Second, He came to die for His elect. “… he himself partook of the same things (flesh and blood), that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death” (Heb 2:14, ESV) Although the Children of God are an elect of God, they being born in flesh and blood are subject of sin. Christ came therefore, in flesh and blood, to lay His life in our stead. Because the wages of sin is death. Piper puts it this way, “The reason Jesus became man was to die. As God, he could not die for sinners. But as man he could. His aim was to die. Therefore, he had to be born human. He was born to die. Good Friday is the reason for Christmas. This is what needs to be said today about the meaning of Christmas.” (pg. 23)

Third, He came to redeem His elect. “and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” (Heb 12:15, ESV) Only Jesus could die in our stead. Because while being truly human, He was also truly God. (Jn 1:14) And through His crucifixion, He conquered death. And in us, He conquered the fear and slavery of death. “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1Cor 15:21-22, (ESV) Piper notes, “in dying, Christ de-fanged the devil… by covering all our sins. This means Satan has no legitimate grounds to accuse us before God.” (pg. 24) Therefore, the Apostle Paul confidently says, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” (Rom 8:33, ESV)

Indeed, Good Friday is the reason for Christmas. How amazing is that. Jesus Christ really is, the beginning and the end. What a remarkable reality, we have been brought into. And how undeserving we are. It is truly, a wonder-inducing miracle. And as we ponder on the reason for His birth this season, I wonder how many of us can truly rejoice with Paul, saying “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1Cor 15:55) May God have mercy on us.


Further reading: What is the Doctrine of Election? (John MacArthur, GTY)


Note: All of Piper’s quotations are from “Good News of Great Joy


Read previous entries in this Series:

(i) Introduction: What Christ wants this Christmas (ii) December 1: Prepare the Way (iii) December 2: Mary’s Magnificent God (iv) December 3: The Confidence of Redeeming Hope (v) December 4: A Big God for Little People (vi) December 5: What He Willed to do (vii) December 6: Peace to those with whom He is pleased (viii) December 7: Messiah of all (ix) December 8: Christ is Central in Christmas (x) December 9: Two Kinds of Oppositions (xi) December 10: Our Treasure

Peace, Love, & Joy | Our Treasure | Christmas Special | Devotional Series | Part 11 of 27 | December 10, 2019

Regarding, the wise-men presenting gifts to Christ. We ought to understand two important points. One, these gifts were not presented as financial assistance. Because, God does not need anything from man. He is not served by human hands as if He needs anything. (Acts 17:25) Piper makes this clear, rather humorously, “It would dishonor a monarch if foreign visitors came with royal care-packages.” (pg. 20) Second, these gifts were not meant to be bribes. Because, God takes no bribe. (Deu 10:17)

These gifts were (as discussed previously) – (a) meant to demonstrate their recognition of Jesus’ Kingship; and (b) meant to demonstrate their joy in finding Jesus. I’ll invest a few more words (here) on this second point.

Finding Jesus after much labour, and perhaps after much speculation, and doubt and fear on the wise-men’s part, was perhaps like finding wisdom. (Pro 2:4) The wise-men seem to demonstrate similar joy, as the one we find in the parable of hidden treasure. (Mat 13:44) The crux is this: their joy was not of earthly riches or favour – but that they could witness the birth of the Messiah, and that they could worship Him. They presented gifts as way of demonstrating, that finding Jesus was the treasure above all treasures. And so, they presented their best possession as a show of respect and reverence, and to show that they treasured that moment, and Him, more than the anything. Piper formulates it better. He writes, it was their way of telling “you are my treasure, not these things”. (pg. 21)

I find the wise-men’s endeavour awe-inspiring. But much more than that, I find, myself humbled as to how YHWH led these men against all odds – to being blessed. How amazing is our God? But by saying that, I don’t mean anyone to be mistaken. I am not talking about donating financially to the Church or other philanthropic exercises, as gifts to Christ this Christmas. If you do that, then that is good on you. Keep it up. But that’s not the point I want to make here. Because, we shouldn’t forget what the scriptures says about sacrifices and offerings. And I quote: “I don’t want your sacrifices—I want your love; I don’t want your offerings—I want you to know me.” (Hos 6:6, TLB) But how can we love someone without knowing them? Therefore, knowledge is preceded by obedience. Only when we being obeying Him by learning and keeping His Word (i.e. the Bible), we begin to love Him, and know Him. “But Samuel replied, what is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.” (1Sa 15:22, NLT)

What is it that a man treasures the most in his life? It is his ‘self’ – his self-interest and all the vices that comes along with it. If you ought to gift anything to God. You begin by mortifying your self – your ­self-interest – your sins – your sinful habits – your sinful desires. For a person who continues to harbour his old sins cannot please God, let alone offer Him anything. “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mat 16:24, ESV) If you want to offer anything to God, offer your bodies as a living sacrifice. Seek righteousness and holiness. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship.” (Rom 12:1, NIV) How profound it is that the scriptures note, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Mat 6:21, ESV)


Note: All of Piper’s quotations are from “Good News of Great Joy


Read previous entries in this Series:

(i) Introduction: What Christ wants this Christmas (ii) December 1: Prepare the Way (iii) December 2: Mary’s Magnificent God (iv) December 3: The Confidence of Redeeming Hope (v) December 4: A Big God for Little People (vi) December 5: What He Willed to do (vii) December 6: Peace to those with whom He is pleased (viii) December 7: Messiah of all (ix) December 8: Christ is Central in Christmas (x) December 9: Two Kinds of Oppositions