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I am sitting in one of my favorite coffee shops called Cool Moose. The decor is retro meets Christmas Vacation this time of year. As I look around outside, I feel the pull around all the things that “need”  to be purchased in order for it to feel like Christmas. The tree, cards, wrapping paper, bows, poinsettias, gifts and so on. I think about my children who as a mother I want to lavish with gifts just so I can see the look on their beautiful little faces as they rush over to hug me and say ” This is what I’ve always wanted!” Ok, well it wouldn’t actually be that dramatic but it would feel good. I think about all the baking I want to do so my house smells like sugar cookies with sprinkles of course. As I envision all this  worldly joy, I also begin to think about Jesus….You may know this story but just bear with me as I do my best to capture the essence of the greatest figure in history. My hope is that this will be a good reminder during the pull of all that “needs” to be done this holiday season.

Most of Jesus life is told through the Gospels in the New Testament Bible. Jesus’ life got off to a really rocky start. He was not born in a hospital with doctors and nurses but in a dirty manger with animals in the dead of winter. According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus was born during the reign of Herod the Great who feeling threatened that this child was the Messiah tried having him killed by ordering all of Bethlehem’s male babies under two to be killed. Can you even imagine living during these times? Joseph, Jesus second father sorta speak, was warned by an Angel so the family fled to Egypt also in the dead of winter with a new baby.  After, Herod’s death, the family settled in the town of Nazareth.

Even though little was known about Jesus’ early years, at 12 years of age, he became separated from his parents on a pilgrimage for a several days. I mean how scary must have that been for Jesus and his parents? I would be out of my mind if I lost not only one of my kids but the actual Messiah who would save the world. He would later be found in a temple discussing issues with some of the elders. We do know that Jesus worked as a carpenter and didn’t actually begin his ministry til age 30. He would only live 3 more years so the impact he had on Christianity ( the most influential religion to this day). is unfathomable. John the Baptist declared Jesus the son of God when he Baptized him. Jesus then went into the Judean desert where he prayed, meditated and fasted in order to hear from his father of what was to come. Then of course, the Devil appeared and tempted him in every possible way. How many times have you been tempted by something or someone you knew was not good for you, but you did it anyway? Jesus had not eaten in 40 days! Even so Jesus rejected the Devil and eventually he fled. He will flee from us too if we get strong in who we are in Christ.

Jesus would walk from village to village teaching and preaching the good news and although he had many, many followers, he was also hated by many. People who wanted to harm him including one who he was very close to. Jesus maintained his calling and through those 3 years, he changed our entire existence. He raised the dead, he healed the sick, he fed the hungry, he provided and he loved the most broken of people. He was the epitome of all that is good and right in the world. He was the living God in flesh and blood.

The priest and the Pharisees were jealous and threatened by Jesus and wanted his growing public adulation to stop so they devised a plan to have him arrested. His close friend Judas would turn on him and let the high priest know of his whereabouts. Before Jesus arrest, he asked God if this cup ( his suffering and death) might pass him by. When the officials arrived one of Jesus disciples tried to protect him and cut off the ear of one of the soldiers who came to arrest Jesus. Even then, Jesus completely healed the soldiers wound. Are you kidding me?

Jesus was interrogated, beaten, spat on, mocked and condemned at the high court for claiming to be the Son of God. The Roman soldiers also placed a crown of thorns on his head. Jesus then had to carry his own wooden cross to Mount Calvary where he would be crucified between two thieves. During the last 3 hours of his life he would continue to be taunted by the soldiers and the crowd. Jesus was nailed to the cross and died a slow, excruciating death. During this time, he would be separated from his Father all the while his mother, Mary watched in sheer agony and despair. Tears are welling up as I even write this..

Three days later after his horrific death, he would rise from the dead. He comforted Mary Magdalene and his mother, Mary. Both women informed the disciples and told them do not be afraid. Jesus would tell his disciples to go into the world and preach the gospel to all of humanity.

So, what my hope for you during this season is that you really understand that you have a father that loves you so much that he allowed his beloved and only son to die for your sins. This is a time of great joy as well as thanksgiving to our King. This is a season of rejoicing that the Lord is good. When the world starts to pull at you and takes you away from the love of your father, take a few minutes to remember all that Christ Jesus endured for you to live. This season is really about Jesus.

Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is- what is good and pleasing and mature.- Romans 12:2

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