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Just about everything on our Christmas tree is connected in some way with a family tradition or has something to do with someone in our family. For instance, one of the bulbs on our tree was made by me when I was a child.
A Christmas tree without decorations is just another pine tree. The decorations are what make it so special.
When I think of a Christmas tree I also think about the cross of Calvary. By itself, the cross is just a piece of wood. It isn’t special at all. What makes the cross so special is the person who hung on it. What makes the cross significant is that Jesus died on it for all mankind.
The cross of Calvary was decorated with some very special ornaments. Over the next few days we’re going to consider four decorations that make the cross of Calvary so significant to our lives today.
The first decoration is LOVE.
Nothing exemplifies the spirit of love at Christmas more than the gifts that we give to one another. But in our giving to one another we should never forget the wonderful gift of God to the entire world. God gave His only begotten Son out of love.
By nature God is love and one of the characteristics of His love is that it is sacrificial.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
During this time of year many people are searching for love. That’s because by nature we all want and need to be loved by someone. But often times we don’t find love because we are looking in all the wrong places for it.
The love of God can satisfy both the saint and the sinner alike.
Romans 5:5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
The fighting was fierce in the days before Christmas during the first World War. A German soldier emerged from his trench and tried to advance, but he was hit by gunfire and severely wounded. As he tried to crawl back to safety, he became caught in barbed wire. After his screams turned to moans, an American climbed out of his trench and inched his way to the injured man.
When the two opposing commanders saw what was happening, they ordered their troops to cease-fire. In the eerie silence, the American comforted and freed the wounded German, then carried him to the waiting arms of his comrades. The guns remained silent until he returned to his trench.
This is an inspiring story, but I know one that is even more dramatic. Jesus, because of God’s love, crossed into “enemy territory” to rescue us from spiritual death. Even though we deserved to die, He unselfishly accepted the humiliation, pain, and death of the cross to pay the price for our sin.
Romans 5:6 When we were unable to help ourselves, at the moment of our need, Christ died for us, although we were living against God. (NCV)
Hark! The herald angels sing,”Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild–
God and sinners reconciled!” – Wesley
While Christ’s birth brought God to man; Christ’s death brings man to God.
So, during this busy Christmas season, let’s take time to remember in awe and wonder what Jesus did for us. He was born that we might be rescued from eternal death.