I saw a bumper sticker last week that made me laugh. It simply said “It’s all about me.”. My first thought was “what a pitiful, ridiculous way to live” followed closely by “I actually know a few people who act that way!”. I went on with my day, not really giving the sticker another thought.
A few days later I saw something else that grabbed me. It was a billboard with a picture of a cross and under it the words “The reason for the season.” At first I thought that was different and kinda cool. And maybe from some angle, it is true. But the more I think about it, the less I agree with it. If dying was the only reason Jesus came, I think He could have done it several different ways. He could have simply arrived in Bethlehem (that part is pretty crucial for the sake of fulfilling prophecy, right?) and then headed over to the cross. Instead, He fulfilled DOZENS of prophecies, endured horrible trials and heartaches, healed countless people, loved the unlovable, raised the dead, performed incredible miracles, baffled the “wise men”, freed the captive (that’s you and me, for the record), submitted Himself to torture on a cross (all the while asking God the Father to forgive those creeps!), and came back to life again. Why?? For us. He did not do all those things because they sounded like fun. I doubt He enjoyed having nails driven through His wrists, or being whipped so severely that His back did not resemble anything human. I also do not believe that loving some of the world’s least lovable people was necessarily easy for Him. He loved them in order to show us how. He forgave to give us an example. He came, not just to pay the sacrifice for our sin, but to show us how to live. Not bound by a list of do’s and don’ts, but in freedom to follow the Father’s direction for each of us individually.
You may feel some sympathy for Jesus when you consider the list of “do’s and don’ts” that was handed to Him by the spiritual elite of His day. He was often criticized for not “keeping the law.” He would respond with a simple answer… I am doing what my Father tells me to do. But I guess that’s a different soapbox for a different day. For now I’ll just say that God has been teaching me about legalism and it’s been an interesting lesson!
Back to the point at hand… I love that Jesus came for so much more than just paying the sacrifice for us. As if that wasn’t enough in and of itself, right?? But He endured this painful world for many years before laying down His life for us. That wasn’t an accident! His life was for us just as much as His death. It was all about us. Like never before, this thought has made me want to study Jesus’ life. If you haven’t already read it, I would highly recommend Beth Moore’s book called “Jesus, the One and Only.” It’s incredibly detailed and personal and starts back just before His birth. If you have any desire to know more about Jesus, you need that book.
Maybe I should make myself my own bumper sticker! It would have a manger AND a cross, and the words “It was all about me.”