This post Letter of Love is beautifully written. Take a moment to read this and let it touch you.
Where would we be without Christ Jesus?
“God was manifest in the flesh.”
Viewed as a medium of the most costly blessings to the church of God, how precious a mystery does the incarnation of our Lord appear! The union of the Divine and the human in Immanuel, is the reunion of God through the second Adam with fallen man. The first Adam severed us from the Divine nature-the second Adam reunites us. The incarnation is the grand link between these two extremes of being. It forms the verdant spot, the oasis, in the desert of a ruined universe, on which God and the sinner can meet together. Here are blended in marvelous union the gloomy clouds of human woe, and the bright beams of Divine glory-God and man united! And will you, O theist, rob me of this truth, because of its mystery? Will you yourself reject it, because reason cannot grasp it? Then might I rob you of your God (whom you ignorantly worship), because of His incomprehensibleness, not one attribute of whom can you understand or explain. No! it is a truth too precious to part with so easily. God in my nature-my God-my Brother-my Friend-my Counselor-my Guide-my Redeemer-my Pattern-my all! God in my nature, my wisdom, my righteousness, my sanctification, my redemption!
But for this heaven-descending communication, of which the patriarch’s ladder was the symbol and the type, how could a holy God advance towards me, or I draw near to Him? But He takes my nature that He may descend to me, and He gives me His nature that I may ascend to Him. He stoops, because I could not rise! Oh mystery of grace, wisdom, and love! Shall I doubt it? I go to the manger of Bethlehem, and gaze upon the infant Savior. My faith is staggered, and I exclaim, “Is this the Son of God?” Retiring, I track that infant’s steps along its future path. I mark the wisdom that He displayed, and I behold the wonders that He wrought. I mark the revelations that He disclosed, the doctrines that He propounded, the precepts that He taught, the magnanimity that He displayed. I follow Him to Gethsemane, to the judgment-hall, and then to Calvary, and I witness the closing scene of wonder. I return to Bethlehem, and with the evidences which my hesitating faith has thus collected, I exclaim, with the awe-struck and believing centurion, “Truly this is the Son of God!” All the mystery of His lowly incarnation vanishes, and my adoring soul embraces the incarnate God within its arms. We marvel not that, hovering over the spot where this great mystery of godliness transpired, the celestial choir, in the stillness of the night, awoke such strains of music along the plains of Bethlehem as were never heard before. They left the realms of glory to escort the Lord of glory in His advent to our earth. How gladly they trooped around Him, thronging His wondrous way, their benevolent bosoms dilating in sympathy with the grand object of His mission. And this was the angel’s message to the astonished shepherds: “Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men.” Shall angels rejoice in the incarnation of the Son of God, and our hearts be cold and unmoved? Forbid it love, forbid it gratitude, forbid it, O my soul!
On this most glorious day, let us praise the Lord for the love and grace He came to give us. Knowing what we were, and how we would treat Him, He came to earth to become one of us, to live as one of us, and to die for us. When I think of the way I love the Lord Jesus I’m ashamed for I know that I don’t give Him what He deserves, but when I think of the way He loves me, and what He did for me I’m humbled. I’m grateful and filled with joy that someone so undeserving of such love could be loved so much by someone so deserving of so much more than I can ever give.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”
OF whose love does the apostle speak? The believer’s love to Christ? On the contrary, it is Christ’s love to the believer. And this view of the subject makes all the difference in its influence upon our minds. What true satisfaction and real consolation, at least how small its measure, can the believer derive from a contemplation of his love to Christ? It is true, when sensible of its glow, and conscious of its power, he cannot but rejoice in any evidence, the smallest, of the work of the Holy Spirit in his soul. Yet this is not the legitimate ground of his confidence, not the proper source of his comfort. It is Christ’s love to him! And this is just the truth the Christian mind needs for its repose. To whom did Paul originally address this letter? To the saints of the early and suffering age of the Christian Church. And this truth-Christ’s love to His people-would be just the truth calculated to comfort, and strengthen, and animate them. To have declared that nothing should prevail to induce them to forsake Christ would have been but poor consolation to individuals who had witnessed many a fearful apostasy from Christ in others, and who had often detected the working of the same principle in themselves. Calling to mind the strong asseveration of Peter, “Although all shall be offended, yet will not I,” and remembering how their Master was denied by one, betrayed by another, and forsaken by all His disciples, their hearts would fail them. But let the apostle allure their minds from a contemplation of their love to Christ, to a contemplation of Christ’s love to them, assuring them, upon the strongest grounds, that whatever sufferings they should endure, or by whatever temptations they should be assailed, nothing should prevail to sever them from their interest in the reality, sympathy, and constancy of that love, and he has at once brought them to the most perfect repose. The affection, then, of which the apostle speaks, is the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.
The love of Christ! such is our precious theme. Of it can we ever weary? Its greatness can we fully know? Its plenitude can we fully contain? Never. Its depths cannot be fathomed, its dimensions cannot be measured. It “passes knowledge.” All that Jesus did for His Church was but the unfolding and expression of His love. Traveling to Bethlehem-I see love incarnate. Tracking His steps as He went about doing good-I see love laboring. Visiting the house of Bethany-I see love sympathizing. Standing by the grave of Lazarus-I see love weeping. Entering the gloomy precincts of Gethsemane-I see love sorrowing. Passing on to Calvary-I see love suffering, bleeding, and expiring. The whole scene of His life is but an unfolding of the deep, awful, and precious mystery of redeeming love.
Just a gentle reminder of why it’s important to keep Christ as our focus.
Keep Christ Central in Christmas
It is a principle of art that in the composition of a picture, all the parts shall be so arranged as to lead the eye inevitably to the central figure or feature. Whatever prevents this is a capital defect. Accessories are only important as they help this end.
When Varelst, the Dutch painter, made his tulips so glorious that they drew attention away from the face of James II, in whose portrait he had placed them, he violated this canon. So did Haydon when, in his picture of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, he made the figure of the beast on which the Master rode more attractive than the person of Christ.
So does the theologian or the metaphysician or the logician, who fascinates by his argument and rhetoric, or the preacher and liturgist, who stresses his forms of worship and symbols of religion.
It is not the swaddling-clothes of ceremonialism, but the Christ of the simple gospel story consistently lived, that shall span the continents with love and make Christmas perpetual in the heart of man.
This is an old tale that’s been around for years, but I enjoy it, and it never fails to make me think of what Christmas is really all about. My prayer for myself and for you is that you’ll try to be like the cobbler in this story.
The Shoemaker’s Dream
One of the most beautiful of all Christmas stories was told by the American poet, Edwin Markham, about a cobbler, a godly man who made shoes in the old days. One night the cobbler dreamed that the next day Jesus was coming to visit him. The dream seemed so real that he got up very early the next morning and hurried to the woods, where he gathered green boughs to decorate his shop for the arrival of so great a Guest.
He waited all morning, but to his disappointment, his shop remained quiet, except for an old man who limped up to the door asking to come in for a few minutes of warmth. While the man was resting, the cobbler noticed that the old fellow’s shoes were worn through. Touched, the cobbler took a new pair from his shelves and saw to it that the stranger was wearing them as he went on his way.
Throughout the afternoon the cobbler waited, but his only visitor was an elderly woman. He had seen her struggling under a heavy load of firewood, and he invited her, too, into his shop to rest. Then he discovered that for two days she had had nothing to eat; he saw to it that she had a nourishing meal before she went on her way.
As night began to fall, the cobbler heard a child crying outside his door. The child was lost and afraid. The cobbler went out, soothed the youngster’s tears and, with the little hand in his, took the child home.
When he returned, the cobbler was sad. He was convinced that while he had been away he had missed the visit of his Lord. Now he lived through the moments as he had imagined them: the knock, the latch lifted, the radiant face, the offered cup. He would have kissed the hands where the nails had been, washed the feet where the spikes had entered. Then the Lord would have sat and talked to him.
In his anguish, the cobbler cried out, “Why is it, Lord, that Your feet delay. Have you forgotten that this was the day?” Then, soft in the silence a voice he heard:
“Lift up your heart for I kept My word.
Three times I came to your friendly door;
Three times My shadow was on your floor.
I was the man with the bruised feet.
I was the woman you gave food to eat,
I was the child on the homeless street.”