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Come near

25 Dec

During the Christmas season, are you longing for something that truly satisfies? Do you feel lost and alone in the dark, searching for answers and guidance?

 

The old Christmas carol, “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” indicates that all of our hopes and fears and longings are satisfied through Jesus Christ.

 

O Little Town of Bethlehem

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by

Yet in thy dark streets shineth the ever-lasting light

The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

 

In the gospel of John, Jesus made seven statements about himself. Each statement seems to address a particular fear and longing that each one of us experiences.

 

On Christmas Eve or Christmas day, most families will sit down to a sumptuous feast. After stuffing yourself, you’ll proclaim that you can’t eat another bite. But a few hours later, you’ll want a sandwich.

 

The feast only satisfies for a short time. You will soon be hungry again.

 

In John 6:35, Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; he who come to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” Jesus, the bread of life, is not merely a spiritual snack that tides us over until something better comes along. He is the one who satisfies our deepest longings. 

 

Some time ago, the power went out in our home during a windstorm. We scurried around lighting candles and looking for flashlights. 

 

In John 8:12, Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

 

When we are stranded and alone in the dark, lights can attract and guide us to safety. When we are afraid of the dark, we need someone to bring us a flashlight or a candle. We need someone to lead us to the light so that we can once again feel secure. As the light of the world, Jesus guides our path to safety and security.

 

In John 10:7-9, Jesus made another statement about himself. “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”

 

A door speaks of three things. It invites us into a place of warmth, security, and fellowship with those inside. A door provides a sense of security. The door can be shut in the event of danger or can remain open, signifying safety. A door also speaks of the provision of daily needs. On the other side of the door is a place of rest and nourishment, a place of pasture.

 

As the door, Jesus furnishes rest, safety, and food for his sheep. As the door, Jesus is the sole determiner of who enters and who is excluded. His purpose is the salvation and health of the sheep. Under his protection and by his gift, we can experience the best life can offer.

 

During the holidays, we long to feel at home. Yet many of us feel disconnected at Christmastime. Perhaps our families are far away or maybe we don’t have fond memories of home. 

 

In John 10:11-14, Jesus said this about himself, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me.”

 

As the good shepherd, Jesus knows us by name. The shepherd cares about the sheep because they are his property and he cares about them individually. We gain a sense of belonging and security because of his personal caring and protection.

 

One of the most troubling questions each one of us faces is, “What is beyond the grave?”  Jesus’ statement in John 11:25 reassures us that there is life after death.  I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.”

 

For the one who has put their faith and hope in Jesus Christ, physical death is not the end. Jesus gives us hope in death. Jesus’ statement gives us the assurance that if we have trusted in Jesus for our salvation, we will one day see our family, friends, and loved ones who have died in the faith.

 

Today, there are many different belief systems. There are a wide variety of religions clamoring for our attention. How can we know which one is real? 

 

In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” Jesus’ statement provides certainty in the midst of perplexity.  It gives us the confidence that we won’t be misled.

 

Jesus’ statement is personal. He explains that the solution to perplexity is not a recipe. It is a personal relationship with Christ. His statement is authoritative. Christ is the only authorized representative of humanity to God. Christ is the God who came near, the one who lived among us so that we could know him better.

 

One of the most common desires of all people is to know that their life counts for something, to know that they have made a difference. In John 15:5, Christ addressed our desire for fruitfulness. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

 

Jesus’ statement lets us know that if are connected to him through a personal relationship, his life will permeate us, and fruit will be inevitable. If we abide in Christ, we can rest assured that we will enjoy a sense of significance.

 

During the Christmas season, the baby born in Bethlehem attracts our attention. We are drawn to the baby in the manger as a moth is drawn to a candle.

 

This Christmas, come to the Child. You may have been attracted by the lights and the decorations. Come closely and investigate the child in the manger.

 

If you are . . .

Hungry, yet longing for something to truly satisfy

Lost and alone in the dark, searching for answers and guidance

Feeling insecure and defenseless, or searching for security and protection that will be there when you need it

Feel like you don’t belong, and are searching for a sense of family and relationship

Long for the assurance that there is more to life than just this—that there is life beyond the grave

Confused by so many different beliefs and options, and are searching for certainty in an age of perplexity

Wondering if you matter and if your life will make a difference, longing for a sense of significance and a source of fruitfulness

. . . then come to the Child. 

 

Come to the one who said, “I am the bread of life . . . the light of the world . . . the door . . . the good shepherd . . . the resurrection and the life . . . the way, the truth, and the life . . . the vine.

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2008 in Christmas, Scripture, Theology

 

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