One might consider it strange that during the Christmas season my mind turns to Christ’s death and resurrection. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the Christmas season; quite to the contrary, I love to hear the nativity story and sing and hear the familiar traditional carols. However, I often think about his death, at this time of year when we celebrate his birth. Because without the cross, Bethlehem would have been meaningless and conversely the cross would not have been possible had Jesus not been born in Bethlehem. It all ties together. It is not only appropriate to consider the cross at Christmas time, but it is essential to understanding the plans and purposes of God for the world in general and for us individually.
One of my favorite verses for this season is 1 John 3:8. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.
In many ways, the reason we celebrate Christ’s birthday by remembering him as a babe in a manger is that it is less threatening for us. However, Jesus is no longer a babe in the manger, but he is the King of kings and Lord of lords, and he came to Earth with a purpose that included destroying the devil’s work.
What is the Devil’s Work?
For us to have a full appreciation of Christ’s purpose here on earth, we must first remind ourselves about the devil’s work.
Satan has been deceiving and scheming against God and God’s people from the beginning, first when he deceived Adam and Eve, enticing them to eat the forbidden fruit in the Garden. The plot continued through history to the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness and his desire to thwart God’s plan of redemption by crucifying Christ on the cross and he continues to this present day trying to deceive or entice us to not serve the Lord with all of our heart.
Why Did Jesus Come?
There are many reasons why Christ came to earth. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. He did not come to be served, but rather to serve and in John 6:38 we are told that he came down from heaven, not to do his own will, but to do the will of him who sent him. Let’s look at five reasons why Christ came, as they relate to destroying the devil’s work.
He came to die
First and foremost, it was his purpose to come as a man, so that he might die in order to atone for our sins and restore fellowship and relationship between God and mankind. At Christmas time, I think of that little baby boy in the manger in Bethlehem who came to die for my sins. This was not God’s reaction or response to a sinful world that caught him by surprise, but instead the Scriptures tell us, “that Christ was slain from the foundations of the earth.” Jesus came to die so that we might live. Jesus fulfilled the purpose of destroying the devil’s work by willingly allowing himself to be crucified on a cross so that we might have life with him.
He came bring us light
Secondly, he came to bring us light, illuminating our understanding and knowledge of God. This illumination provides us with a greater insight to God’s nature and his plans and purposes for us. The fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden destroyed the relationship between God and man to the point where we no longer knew God. Through the ages God revealed more and more of himself to Abraham, Moses and David, among others. Progressively, each succeeding generation understood more of God’s character and nature. Ultimately, when Jesus came, it was as though someone had turned on the light and there was a new understanding of the relationship that God desired with us.
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6 (NIV)
Here is what John said in his gospel about the impact of the light that shines brightly.
What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out. John 1:4-5 (The Message)
He came to rescue and save
The third reason that Jesus came was to rescue and save us. In Luke 19:10 Jesus says, “for the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
What is so amazing is that we didn’t even know that we were lost. We were ignorant of our condition; we were not looking for God, but he was seeking to save us. The greatest transformation happened when our eyes were opened, and our hearts changed when we accepted Christ’s offer of salvation to us.
For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. Colossians 1:13-14 (NLT)
He came to give us abundant life
The fourth reason he came was to give us an abundant life. Satan and the world promise excitement, fame and fortune but ultimately deliver sorrow and death. Jesus not only gives us the promise of eternal life, but we can have the expectation of a satisfying and fulfilling life here on earth.
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John 10:10 (NLT)
Death came into the world because of one man’s sin, but Jesus gives us life filled with meaning and purpose.
He Came to Show Us the Love of God
Finally, chief and foremost among the reasons that Jesus came to us was the love of God. Almost everyone knows what it says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not die but have eternal life.” He was motivated by love for you and me.
This Christmas season let us ponder once again the reasons why Jesus came. He came to destroy the devil’s work, and he did that by paying a debt we could not pay. He came to this earth to die so that we might have life. He came to bring us light so that we would not walk in darkness, but rather our understanding of ourselves and of God would be illuminated so that we can understand his great love for us. He came to rescue and save us and to facilitate the transaction that liberated us from the bondage of sin. And he came to give us life that is rich and fulfilling and full of purpose and meaning.