Friday, December 5, 2014

Tree Trimming #5 (or #4 Part II): Christ the Lord

"For unto you is born this day, in the City of David, a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord."
Luke 2:11

The most stunning aspect of the Savior's identity is that He isn't only the Advocate of the guilty but also the Judge of the condemned.  In the previous post from this series on Tree Trimmings, I stated that there was a much greater threat to non-believers than the Devil of hell could ever be or impose.  The greatest threat to the unrepentant sinner is God.  The fact that so many might bristle at the thought of this speaks to how poorly we have understood the extent of God's love demonstrated in Christ to save the undeserving.

In Genesis 18:25, just before God carried out sentencing on Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham called Him "the Judge of all the earth".  Psalm 1 is celebrated as a passage with an encouraging picture of the righteous.  However, that particular psalm has just as much to say about the wicked (Psalm 1:4-6).  In fact, Psalms is a book that many retreat to for comfort and "inspiration" because of the emotional and poetic expressions of highs and lows of this life.  But God's emotions are also on display-- see Psalm 7:11, Psalm 90:7-9, and Psalm 110:6.  The prophetic utterances in Jeremiah 11:11 and Zephaniah 3:8 have varied contexts but both express God's red-hot anger against sin and righteousness in judging those who despise and disobey His law.  This is not just an Old Testament thing.  

James, the brother of Jesus makes it clear that as a judge, God both defends and destroys (James 4:12).  Peter writes the church to assure them that their accusers will have to answer to God for their sins against His people (1st Peter 4:5).  Luke's account of apostolic preaching is riddled with references to judgement (Acts 10:42, Acts 17:30-31, etc.).  Paul explains that God is not only judging the visible and vocal sins but the sinful expressions hidden from others within our thoughts, attitudes, and emotions (Romans 2:16).  For anyone so deceived to believe that their good deeds will outweigh their bad deeds on Judgement Day, the Apostle writes,

"Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.  Therefore no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law; rather through the law we become conscious of sin."
Romans 3:19-20

At this point, someone will argue that I'm over-doing it.  Why go on and on about God as judge?  The title in this post isn't "Judge", after all.  I labor the point of judgement because at this time of year, maybe the last thing on even the Christian's mind is the judgement with which God could have righteously executed upon the earth at His first visit (Christmas).  But it is precisely because of the fact that the human race collectively and individually worthy of the God's guilty verdict (Romans 3:9) that Christ the Lord came to save.

The immensity of His work as Savior is directly proportional to the wrath which was due us.  Minimize one, and you've depreciated the other.  Omit one and the other is null and void.

Asking for one's opinion of who/what the "Messiah" or "Christ" would do/be carried almost as many conceptions as there were people to share them.  Political leader, teacher, arch-rebel against Rome, military genius... one's guess may have been as good as another.  But the celestial statement was probably more shocking than anything almost anyone could have expected, hoped for, or feared: this savior is Christ the Lord; God Himself.

To be sure, Israel has had many saviors and deliverers before Jesus.  A host of relatively unknown characters from the Old Testament were said to have saved/delivered Israel (Judges 3:9, Judges 3:31, Judges 8:22).  But this Savior is the one who saved the saviors.  And what's so awesome about Him is that, in a very real sense, He has saved all those who trust in Him unto Himself, from Himself.  When have you ever seen a judge take off his robe, relinquish gavel, and become the defense attorney for the guilty?  Who else but Christ the Lord!

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