We don’t think of it as a Christmas verse, but 1 Timothy 1:15 speaks specifically to the reason for Jesus’ coming. Paul writes, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners– of whom I am the worst.” Usually spoken with humorist caveats, such as: ‘I always wanted to be a Chief,” this verse tells us why it was necessary that Jesus leave the comfort of his home – to save us. The implication is that our circumstances were dire enough to warrant nothing less than a rescue.
When we consider the Nativity, we think of the teenage mother, the faithful husband, the adoring shepherds and wise men. We also think of the vulnerability and meekness of the Son of Man who made his appearance to us as a babe. That baby, born in a stable, inconvenienced by an oppressive government had no power to defend, provide, self-determine. Jesus’ helplessness in the Nativity is mirrored in the helplessness of those he came to save.
For Paul, one never grows out of meekness. He tells us, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the chief.” Paul was saying that he still was a sinner who needed rescuing in spite of Jesus have already come. We too are to follow Paul’s model. I am still a sinner who needs saving. Herein is the disarming power that the true Christian brings to the consumerist celebration that has become Christmas.
The reality is that we are in over our heads. We’re not merely in need of a renovation, but rather, we are in need of transformation. Again, though, we do not have what is necessary to make ourselves safe. We do not have the power.
Welsh pastor, Martin Lloyd-Jones, recognized the trouble facing the church when he preached a series of sermons in recognition of the revival work God had done in Wales 100 years previously. In preaching on Mark 8 and the failure of the disciples to save a young boy from his demon possession, Lloyd Jones comments as if Jesus is answering the disciples question as to why they could not cast the demon out,
“You have not sufficient power. I did what you could not do because I have power, because I am filled with the power that God gives me by the Holy Spirit, for he gives not the spirit by measure unto me. You will never be able to deal with ‘this kind’ unless you have applied to God for the power which he alone can give you. You must become aware of your need, of your impotence, of your helplessness. you must realize that you are confronted by something that is too deep for your methods to get rid of, or to deal with, and you need something that can go down beneath that evil power and shatter it, and there is only one thing that can do that, and that is the power of God.” (Matin Lloyd-Jones, “The Urgent Need for Revival Today” in Revival).
As you celebrate Advent, as you get more an more desperate that you’ll never be able to live up the other’s expectations (and your own), remember that the problems which you face are ultimately too deep for you to get out on your own means. What is needed is rescue from above, salvation from a such a one as Jesus, who came to save sinners.
All content copyright, unless noted otherwise, Randy Edwards, 2001-2006. All rights reserved.