It has been said that Jesus died of a broken heart. Whether this can be proven medically or not, I don't know; but I do know that the pain from a broken heart far exceeds that of a damaged physical heart. I cannot begin to imagine what our Lord felt physically as he was beaten and mangled beyond human recognition. Yet, as awful as the physical pain endured by Jesus was, the emotional pain was worse.
When Jesus was initially led to the Religious leaders and was given his first "trial", outside in the courtyard his best disciple was denying he even knew Jesus over and over again. Only a few hours earlier Jesus had been betrayed by Judas who "sold him out" for a few pieces of silver. Judas went out into the night and never returned. Peter, upon hearing the rooster crow three times, went out and wept bitterly. A short time earlier, he had boldly told Jesus he would never forsake him. Jesus told him before the rooster crowed twice he would deny him thrice.
Where were the legions of adoring fans who only a week earlier had showered Jesus with palm leaves when he entered Jerusalem? Where were all the men and women who had been physically and mentally healed by Jesus during his ministry? Where were the influential Pharisees who had invited Jesus into their homes to dine and talk informally? Where were the twelve men who had been with Jesus day in and day out for more than three years?
When the day Jesus had been telling them about for a long time finally came, everyone chose to save themselves instead of standing with Jesus. In the weeks and days leading up to "the end", Jesus had been "turning up the heat" in his teachings and interaction with the people. The higher he turned up the heat, the more people got offended and ceased following him. By the time the final days rolled around, all Jesus had left to show for his years of work were twelve guys who were still more interested in recognition than service, a few women and a couple of close friends like Lazarus.
In those closing days of his ministry, he would daily go to the temple and lay it on the line with the Pharisees and scribes during the day and then go to Bethany and stay with Mary, Martha and Lazarus at night. He was no longer a popular figure and his enemies were plotting his demise daily. In God's due time he would be delivered over to the religious leaders who would find him guilty and take him to Pilate to be given the death sentence.
Once Pilate begrudgingly agreed to the demand to have Jesus crucified, he was led away to be beaten and scourged by the Roman soldiers. Through this horrible ordeal, Jesus was alone and faced this suffering in silence. His "friends" had disappeared and his disciples had found a room to hide in for fear they would be found, tried and convicted just as Jesus had been. Jesus was left to suffer alone as a despised criminal and scorned malefactor.
Hanging on the cross outside Jerusalem, with throngs of frenzied people shouting for him to give up; Jesus mustered his last remaining strength to cry out to God "it is finished". He then died. Somewhere in the crowd, were his mother, Mary, Martha, Mary Magdalene and perhaps a few of his disciples. Nowhere was anyone actively condemning this travesty of justice or boldly testifying they believed in Jesus. All there was around him as his life ended was deafening silence. The silence of people too moved with grief, fear and shock to offer him any support or comfort.
Why on earth would I bring this story up when we are supposed to be rejoicing in the birth of Jesus? Because this is the true "reason for the season". Jesus was born into this world to be the savior and redeemer of mankind. He was not born as a king or some great one to be served. He was born to give his life a sacrificial sin offering once and forever for us all. He came into this world to save sinners, of whom we all are chief. There was only one reason Jesus Christ was born, and that was to give his life.
Jesus' life ended much as it began, with only his mother and a few others around to witness the event. When his life began, God saw fit to only let a few humble shepherds know of his birth. When his life ended, all those who had thronged to see, hear and be touched by Jesus had long departed out of fear or from being offended by his honesty. Those left represented but a remnant of the multitudes that once followed him everywhere. As Jesus hung on the cross, he was no hero or superstar; he was a lonely man who had been deserted, betrayed and left to fend for himself by those who once were committed to his cause.
When Jesus took his last breath, he fulfilled his destiny in life. As the redeemer, he had one purpose in living and that was to die. When he did, it set into motion the greatest chain of events ever recorded in history. During the 72 hours Jesus was buried in the tomb, God was making arrangements for the greatest celebration ever know in the universe. When God raised Jesus with ETERNAL LIFE, trumpets blared in heaven and angels everywhere rejoiced with unspeakable joy. The devil was defeated and God had triumphed over death through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
When Gabriel appeared to the shepherds and told them of the birth of Jesus there suddenly appeared a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying; "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." This was the angelic testimony to the birth of Jesus Christ. This great witness was finally fulfilled when God raised Jesus from the dead.
God never wanted the birth of Jesus to become a "big deal", so He provided very little information about the event in His Word. One September night, a little over 2000 years ago, a baby was born who would one day fulfill his life's purpose and give his life upon a cross. There was nothing unusual about the birth of Jesus. A woman named Mary gave birth to a son and he was laid in a manger in the presence of her husband and some farm animals. Later some local shepherds came and rejoiced in what they saw and heard. That is it, that is what happened the night Jesus was born.
If you REALLY want a meaningful Christmas, instead of focusing on a Nativity scene that from God's perspective is meaningless; focus on what happened some 33 1/2 years after Jesus' birth. Jesus was not born to provide a mid-winter holiday for the world. Jesus was not born to inspire endless songs to be played non-stop in every store in the land for over two months. Jesus was not born to be replaced in children's minds by a bearded fat man in a red suit who climbs down chimneys and delivers new DVDs and Game Boy products under a tree all decorated so nicely.
Jesus was not born to provide merchants with a means to make money. Jesus was not born to create controversy over whether it is politically correct to say "merry Christmas" vs "happy holidays". Jesus was not born to provide a few days for families spread all over creation to get together. Jesus was not born for the purpose of having a holiday to celebrate his birth.
Jesus was born to be man's Savior and redeem man from sin. Instead of focusing on his birth, spend some time the next few days meditating upon his death and resurrection. Christianity is far more than attending a Christmas and Easter service. That is religion. Christianity is a way of life centered on and revolving around Christ. Please, take some time during the next48 hours to cement your relationship with Christ by telling him how thankful you are, not so much for his birth, but for all he made available to you in giving his life.
Jesus' heart and body were broken 2000 years ago. If we spend time reflecting on him these next few days, his heart will rejoice and it will make all he went through worth all the pain he endured. This is the best way to "celebrate Christmas"; by celebrating our relationship with our Savior and Lord who gave himself so we could live. Jesus Christ, his birth, life, death and resurrection, is the only reason for this season. Merry Christ in You the Hope of Glory and Happy New Life in Him!