My refrigerator magnet says “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.” A great reminder, but it only goes so far. What is the reason for the reason for the season? Why did Jesus come? The old folk carol “I Wander as I Wander” tells us more poignantly than any theologian ever could that “Jesus, the Savior, did come for to die.”
That’s why Christmas reminds me of Good Friday. There is a profound connection between the two. At Christmas we celebrate the Incarnation. But perhaps, it would better be called the Entrapment. When Christ put on human flesh, He was trapped in it. If we didn’t understand that before The Passion of the Christ, we do now.
But even that movie couldn’t show how bad it really was. The sweating of blood, known as hematidrosis, which is only seen in bodies under the severest of stress. The spitting, the mocking, the slapping. The scourging—worse than depicted. Strips of flesh hanging off His body. The hundred-pound arm of the cross lashed across the raw flesh of His beaten shoulders. The fiery, searing, pain from the nerves torn by nails. The slow, agonizing death that is crucifixion.
And then there was the shame. Our Lord was probably crucified naked. He probably lost control of His bladder and bowels. Is there any wonder the thief mocked Him? This was the Messiah?
But what was the reason for the reason for the reason for the season? Why did Jesus “come for to die” with such shame and torment? He died, of course, for your sins and mine. Yes, this is the glorious Gospel message! Our sin separates us from God and carries with it the unpayable penalty—eternal separation. Because sin entered through one man, one man could pay the price, could sacrifice himself ... if only he were perfect, sinless. That’s what makes the penalty unpayable. We are all sinners. But wait! God, eternally co-existing in three Persons, had an answer. The Father could send His Son, His perfect Son. The Son could take on flesh and offer Himself as a once-for-all sacrifice. And so, the Incarnation, the Entrapment.
And that is one reason for the reason for the reason for the season. But there is another. To understand it, we must ask “Is there any way that Jesus could have been spared?” Just one. If God had never created mankind, Christ’s sacrifice would not have been necessary.
“Of course,” you say. But is this what you think? God created mankind. Adam sinned. So God decided to sacrifice Christ. If so, you’re WRONG!
God did not create us only to be surprised by the Fall. God knew before our creation that the sacrifice would be necessary. Scripture tells us that we are “not redeemed with corruptible things, … but with the precious blood of Christ, … Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world.”* The crucifixion was not about cleaning up Adam’s unexpected mess. No! God decided ahead of time to make this sacrifice.
But why? Listen! One can hardly fathom it—God wanted fellowship … with us! This reality is beautifully depicted in Genesis. God walked in the Garden seeking Adam. And Christians of all theological stripes can thrill to the famous first question and answer of the Westminster Catechisms—“man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” But God knew that if He created us we would fall and there would be no fellowship … unless He sacrificed Christ. And this is the other reason for the reason for the reason for the season.
But we must ask, “Do we live like this is true? Too often I do not. God paid the price of crucifixion to fellowship with me. Yet I too often do not fellowship with Him. I neglect quiet times. My prayer life becomes paltry and self-centered. There is too little praise, too little worship. And enjoying Him forever? Sometimes that seems so strange and foreign.
Here is my prayer, and maybe it will be yours, too: Father, in Jesus’ name, please forgive me for failing to fellowship with you. The horrible price has been paid. All I have to do is show up, and I can’t even do that consistently. Lord when I see “Jesus is the reason for the Season,” help me remember. And let that be just the beginning. Help me to walk in constant fellowship with You. Amen.
*I Peter 1:18-20 (KJV).
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