Then I Met the Master

After Thanksgiving each year, I really get into the Christmas spirit.  Invariably, one the Christmas songs will stick in my head—sometimes for days!  This year, it’s been the song, Rocking around the Christmas Tree, and a great tune—for the first 300 times!  After that, the “sentimental feeling” wears off when you hear voices (in your head) singing, “Let’s be jolly; deck the halls with boughs of holly!”

As much as I love the secular sights and sounds of Christmas, I know there’s a deeper meaning to the holiday than tinsel & trees.  The real reason for the season is a Savior.  Have you ever met Him?  I first met Him as a nine-year-old lad, in a small church in Knoxville, Tennessee.

He changed my life that day, and like the song says, “ …all things were changed when He found me; a new day broke through all around me—for I met the Master, now I belong to Him.”  I’m so thankful that He accepted me—“just as I am!”

Through the years I’ve met people who thought that, although Jesus would accept others, He would not be accepting of them.  Some had done things that left them feeling that they were too bad for God to ever accept them.

The great news of Christmas is that God sent His son, so that every human being of all time could discover forgiveness through Him!  Christmas wasn’t just a time for angels, & shepherds, & wise men to meet the Christ child—it’s for you & me, too!

Christmas is a great reminder that we can meet Him in a manger.  From the very beginning, that’s what Christmas has been about from the very beginning – Behold, a virgin shall be with child, & shall bring forth a son, & they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

The manger was an earthly beginning to the ingenious plan of God, established in His mind before the dawn of eternity.  The little Jewish infant in the manger would grow, just like other newborns, through childhood, but as He grew even the scholars of the synagogue marveled that a young lad would have such knowledge, insight, & wisdom.

Although we lose track of this teen when He leaves the Temple, some 18 years later He re-emerges in the Wilderness.  There Satan is tempting Jesus to turn stones to bread, to take a flying leap while calling on angels for protection, and to bow down and worship this fallen angel Lucifer.

Soon following the days of temptation, however, comes a series of opportunities for us.  If we miss meeting Him at the manger, we can meet Him in the miracles.

After Jesus’ baptism, He began to teach wherever He traveled, but as He spoke, some doubted His words.  For example, one day there was a rich young ruler who met Jesus, & asked him how to gain everlasting life.  Sadly, when the young man heard Jesus’ answer, he was disappointed in God’s solution & turned away, doubting Jesus’ words, choosing instead to trust his own abilities & riches.

To my thinking, though some might doubt His words, it would take a lot to doubt works—His miracles.  I mean, if you had seen Jesus touch eyes that had never observed a sunrise or sunset, & instantly a blind man could see, wouldn’t you believe?

If you watched the compassionate Christ touch a leper and witnessed his sores instantly made clean—wouldn’t you believe?  If you had heard Jesus say to a lame man, “Rise, take up thy bed & walk,” and you saw a crippled man who’d never taken a step in his life, suddenly leap to his feet, roll up his mat, & run throughout the village, would you doubt for a moment that this was the Son of God?

No man has ever done what Jesus did—healing the sick, feeding the hungry, & raising the dead!  Not only can we meet the Son of God in the manger & in the miracles of 2000 years ago, but we can meet Him on a mountain.

Consider the Via Dolorosa—the way of suffering—the way of Sorrows.  Today this is a street within the old city of Jerusalem, held to be the path that Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion. The winding route from the Antonia Fortress westward some 2000 feet, past the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to the Place of the Skull, is still today a celebrated place of Christian pilgrimage.

Don’t you see that what began in the cradle now advances to the cross?  The very reason the babe was born in Bethlehem—leads us from a manger to a mountain—Mount Calvary—where on Golgotha’s rocky knoll, we would observe three crosses.  While justice is being served on two of them, grace & mercy collide with justice on the cross in the middle!

Two men, convicted for their crimes & sentenced to death, hang on either side of the Lamb of God.  One convict offers criticism—If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross!  Save yourself & save us!  (Oh the bitter toll that sin takes on those who reject the miracle man in the middle!)

On the other side, is another sinner—guilty as charged, but willing to admit to his sinfulness.  What a substantial difference in heart attitude between these two dying men.  Rebuking his colleague in crime, he feebly appeals to the merciful Man in the Middle, saying, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom!

Gaze for a moment at the middle cross.  Beneath the abuse & blood is the marred resemblance of the man who was once the Babe of Bethlehem’s manger!  This was the twelve-year-old boy who baffled the scholars in the Temple!  This is the man who unstopped deaf ears, who wept at gravesites before calling the dead back to life!  Why, pray tell, is He hanging on that cross?!

My friend, gaze long and consider carefully the One hanging on the center tree—because He hangs there for you & me!  Do you realise that Jesus Christ set the greatest example of the purpose driven life!

Perhaps you’re thinking, “Dale, what possible purpose could there have been in the birth of a baby who would just live to die?”  I’m glad you asked!

The best news ever to come to human ears is this—the babe we meet in the manger … the man we meet in the miracles … the Christ of the cross on the mountain … lived & died, so that we can meet Him in a mansion!

Everything I’ve shared has been about the temporal journey to an eternal destination.  Some people in this world, like the unrepentant thief, spurn the sacrifice on the center cross, passing from the tortures of this world into those of the next, and awakening in the never ending torture of hell.

However, for those who, like the penitent thief, meet the Master and accept His substitutionary death as payment for their sins, the eternal destination is neither a manger nor a mountain, but rather a mansion—heaven!  Jesus said, Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.   In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.   And if I go & prepare a place for you, I will come again, & receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

However, heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people—have you made your reservation? Are you prepared?  The Christ of Christmas said, I am the way, the truth, & the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me.

Looking beyond the cradle & considering Calvary, we realise that it’s the cross that makes the difference.  Jesus Christ didn’t come down from the cross that day to prove to a skeptic that He was the Christ.  No, He stayed on the cross, dying to provide the only solution to our sin problem. The proof came three days later when He arose from the dead!  He said, I am He who was dead, but I’m alive forevermore!  And because I live, you too can live also!

We celebrate Christmas and the birth of the Christ child because we know that his story—though it winds through the valleys of heartache, trials, rejection, & even death—ends in victory!  And what a day that will be—when we behold Him—not in this world, but in the next!

There are many breathtakingly beautiful sights in this world, but if you think these things are beautiful, you ain’t seen nothing yet!  Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. …

So, while you celebrate the Season, be sure to ponder all these things in your heart.  Meander mentally from the manger along the trail, contemplating the miracles, and make your way to the mount.

Rejoice that the Christ of Christmas has provided the means for you to meet Him in a mansion!  There’s every reason to celebrate the Savior who makes the season possible!

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