During this Christmas season, it seems that all my prayers look toward Good Friday more than Christmas – toward the death of Jesus on the cross instead of the baby born in a manger. When my husband pointed this out to me, I began to reflect on it. Christmas, the season of rejoicing at the birth of a Savior, is inextricably linked with Good Friday, a day of extreme sorrow. Christmas, the day of the birth of a King, stands next to Easter, the day of the murder of a King. Hmmm.

The more I reflected on it, the more I realized how appropriate this juxtapositioning is – because the entire purpose of Christ’s birth was fulfilled in His death and resurrection. Without Christ’s death and resurrection, His birth would have simply been a footnote in history. Instead, his birth, life, death and resurrection are the turning point of history.

The angel Gabriel declared the purpose of Jesus’ life to Joseph in a dream when he said “And she [Mary] will have a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21, NLT).

Jesus’ purpose for being born was to save His people from their sins! What a lofty sounding destiny! Of course, another way of saying it is much less lofty sounding – Jesus was born to die! You see, the payment that is required for our sin is death. Someone must make that payment. Christ was born so that He could make the payment for us. His death enables us to bypass death and experience life forever.

Christ also suffered when He died for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but He died for sinners that He might bring us safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but He was raised to life in the Spirit.
1 Peter 3:18, NLT

For the wages of [required payment for] sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23, NLT (bracketed words are my amplification)

Christ was born to die, and it was a destiny that He obviously knew from some very early age. I can’t help but wonder how knowing that His destiny was to die affected the way He lived His life. How would it affect mine? How about yours?

And then it hit me…we do have that destiny! Read this passage:

It is destined for each person to die once, and after that to face judgment.
Hebrews 9:27, (my paraphrase)

We are also destined to die! After our death comes judgment. For those who have accepted God’s free gift of eternal life, we are raised from the death, just as Jesus was, to live eternally with God. For those who have not accepted God’s free gift of eternal life, death rules in judgment.

I find myself agreeing with Paul who wrote the following to the Corinthians:

1As God’s partners, we beg you not to reject this marvelous message of God’s great kindness. 2For God says,
“At just the right time, I heard you.
On the day of salvation, I helped you.”
Indeed, God is ready to help you right now. Today is the day of salvation.
2 Corinthians 6:1-2, NLT

What does it mean to accept God’s free gift? It means to agree with Him and give Him control of your life. Agree first that you have done wrong and need His forgiveness. Believe that Christ died on the cross as the payment required for your wrongdoing. Yield your will to God’s will by determining to live according to His plans for your life instead of your own plans.

Then set about learning more and more about what those plans are. Because although our destiny might be to die and face judgment one day, God also has purposes and plans for our lives that go beyond ourselves.

My [Jesus’] purpose is to give life in all its fullness.
John 10:10b, NLT

11For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11, NIV

Accepting God’s free gift of salvation not only brings eternal life, it also enlarges our earthly life. Can you dare miss out on such a “marvelous” opportunity to receive “God’s great kindness?”

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