Small & Seemingly Insignificant

We have a Christmas tradition of hiding around our home tiny figurines of the wise men, Mary and Joseph. The kids wake up each morning scouring the house to find where they snuck off to next. Actually, as a dad I get as much joy hiding the figurines each evening. We pretend that the wise men are traveling from afar and the young couple is making their way to the Bethlehem. On Christmas morning we search no more as they will all converge at the stable along little baby Jesus in a manger. It is so small and seemingly insignificant.

It wasn’t that much different the first Christmas. It wasn’t grand or magnificent, especially, when you consider the magnitude of all miraculous things that God had done beforehand.

God created the world out of absolutely nothing just by saying a word.
God mixed up peoples languages and scattered them around the globe.
God spoke from a blazing bush to Moses.
God split the Red Sea so his people could walk through and be rescued.
God provided manna everyday for 40-years so that his people wouldn’t be hungry.
God caused water to gush from the rock to quench those same thirsty wanderers.
God crumbled the walls of Jericho and he fought single-handed against Israel’s enemies.
God consumed the altar of Elijah with fire in the presence of the prophets of Baal.
God sent a whale to swallow Jonah and after three days redirect him back to Nineveh.
God shut the lions mouths and Daniel’s friends were unscathed from the fiery furnace.

When God promised the Rescuer, the people expected to be wowed. Other than the young couple, the angels, the shepherds, and the wise men, very few knew that this little baby was the:

One who named the stars and created the world laying in a manger.
One who would gather people of every tribe, language, people and nation.
One who would speak the words of God and be the very Word in the flesh.
One who would split the curtain to bring man into a close relationship with God.
One who would be the Light of the world, God’s burning bush with skin on.
One who would free people from spiritual bondage.
One who would be the Bread of Life and the Living Water.
One who would single-handedly defeat the power of darkness and the enemy.
One who would die, be buried, and after three days rise from the grave.
One who would be the Lion of Judah and spare us from the fiery judgement we deserve.

After thousands of years of waiting and foretelling, on an ordinary night, the Rescuer came. The One. Jesus. He seemed so small and insignificant. So fragile and helpless. So humble and unglamorous. Yet it was in actuality the grandest orchestrated moment in human and prophetic history exactly to the finest detail as God planned and promised.

As Peter reflected on the significance of Jesus’ coming with the household of Cornelius, they were wowed. Hear what he says,

“I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened…how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.…They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day…He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed…All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:34-43)

The coming of Jesus was God’s grandest and most significant miracle. He didn’t come unannounced. He didn’t come as expected. God gifted himself to humanity. He came as a gift of his unstoppable grace to redeem mankind so that as Peter said, “that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Here’s what you need to understand today. That truth is utterly significant for you. Everyone of you. The sureness of God’s promises through the prophets and the specific way Jesus fulfilled them is assurance for your forgiveness and your future hope. This means that today, God is still working out the significance of this day, and he will not relent until it is fully realized in every one you. What you are celebrating this day is big and significant. Merry Christmas!

real question: miracle?

question-door1Ned Anzers: I would certainly believe God is real if He would show me a sign. Why doesn’t God just give me a miracle?

We all love magic tricks. We know that they are just illusions, but they still fascinate us into believing they are real. Jesus was no magician. No doubt He was the real deal. The miracles He did were seen and experienced by many. Some of His miracles include: Calming a storm, feeding 5,000 people with 5 pieces of bread and 2 fish, walking on water, turning water into wine, healing the sick, paralyzed and blind, and raising a person from the dead.

Why did Jesus do miracles? Certainly it wasn’t to show how cool He was, but to help others believe He was God. Miracles did catch the attention of those watching. So why doesn’t God do similar miracles today as He did through Jesus? If He did certainly everyone would believe in God, right?

To answer this question I will to zero in on one of Jesus miracles. It was the last, but the greatest miracle of Jesus’ public ministry. Lazarus was a friend of Jesus and sister to Mary (the prostitute). There is nothing fishy about this miracle. Jesus simply says in three words, “Lazarus, come out!” and a man wrapped in grave clothes comes out of his tomb, not as a mummy but back from the dead. Jesus doesn’t do this I secret, but a crowd of people saw the miracle (John 11:1-44).

There are some general principles to be wrought from this miracle of Jesus.

First, Jesus purposed for Lazarus to die.

He delayed in coming (v.6). He could have prevented Lazarus’ death as Mary and Martha believed (vs.21, 32), but He chose to let Lazarus die. God purposes things to happen in your life to see how much you trust Him.

Second, Jesus Loved Lazarus (vs.3, 5).

He loved them because He knew them very well. Throughout the text Jesus was outwardly affectionate toward his friend, “deeply moved in the spirit”, “troubled”, “wept” (vs.33-38). Jesus knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, he felt sorrow for Lazarus’ loved ones and those who still did not believe. God loves you too because He knows you very well.

Third, Jesus delay and the death of Lazarus was for the Glory of God (v.4).

God is glorified by the demonstration of His power (v.25-26 “I AM the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”) And God is glorified by the demonstration of your faith (vs.14-15 “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.” / v.40 “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” / v.45 “therefore many…put their faith in Him.”). Jesus purposes things to happen in your life to show His glory.

So why doesn’t God do a similar miracle today so that people would believe in Him? Well look are verse 12:37, “Jesus did all these miracles in their presence they still would not believe in Him.” It is true, after Jesus many recorded miracles people still didn’t believe that He was God.

Jesus miracles were not done to amaze us, but to show how amazing God is. The miracle is not so much what Jesus did, but who He is. Miracles illustrate a deeper truth about Jesus. After Jesus feed the 5,000 people with a little boys lunch He says, “I Am the Bread of life.” To this the disciples replied, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” It is not that they did not get what Jesus was saying or doing, since they could still taste the miracle on their very tongues, rather they did not like the implications of His miracles on their lives.

Some might say, ‘Sure Jesus did miracles, but I don’t have to believe He is God.’ You’re right. However, the greatest miracle He wants to do in you is one that He did in me, rescue you from death and bring you into new-life.  Will you trust that Jesus is the “Resurrection and the Life”? (John 11:25-26)