This Christmas I am moved to tears by the depths of the grace of God shown to me in Jesus Christ.
When I reflect on Jesus’ whakapapa, when I reflect on the spread of the gospel over these islands over the past 200 years, when I dwell on the reality that—under God’s good hand—all of this is part of the fabric of my coming to faith in Christ, I am blown away.
As I’ve meditated on Matthew chapters 1 and 2 in the lead up to Christmas, God’s Grace to us in Jesus has stood out two ways: Jesus is God became one of us and Jesus is God for us.
Jesus is God who became one of us
In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ birth we see the profound reality of the Trinity in chapter 1, verses 20-24. Scripture affirms God is three persons. God the father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. God is three persons in one.
In Wellington’s Cuba Mall, there is a famous water feature: the bucket fountain. Water pours from the top into large cups, these cups fill, tip, and the water pours into the next cup. For all time, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have—in the greatest love and joy—known and poured themselves out into each other.
Jesus is God the Son. He is the full image and total expression of God the Father and is therefore fully God. When Jesus became a baby, he didn’t set aside his God nature, he added human nature to his God nature. His God nature and human nature means he is both fully God and fully human.
The more I rest in the reality of Jesus being 100% God and 100% human, the more I experience a deep sense of God’s marvellous grace.
Jesus is God for us
Jesus' name means ‘God saves’. Matthew 1:21 is telling us who Jesus is, literally ‘God saving’. Matthew is telling us what Jesus will do: ‘he will save people from their sins.’
This verse shows us our greatest need and our greatest hope. Our greatest need is to be free from the influence and consequence of the sin, evil, and death that saturates the world and our hearts to the core. Our greatest hope is that God himself would rescue us.
Jesus grows from a baby to man, from a cradle to a cross. On the cross, he hangs in our place for us. Taking on himself the cost and consequence of our sin, in our place.
Jesus is God, come to us.
Jesus is God, come to rescue us.
Jesus is God, who rescues us by giving himself as a sacrifice.
Emma and I recently shared a long weekend with my three closest friends and their wives. We were in Queenstown. We’ve been close friends for over 35 years.
We laughed together, prayed together, worshipped together and ate together. We cried with laughter at photos of us in our teens, at our 21sts, at our weddings…
At the end of the weekend at the airport we all knew we’d experienced something—a tiny glimpse, a taste, a hint—of all that awaits us when Jesus returns. When we will know in full the freedom Jesus has won us from the sin, evil and death that the world is soaked in. When Jesus ultimately renews everything.
I’ve been deeply moved lately, knowing this Jesus who is God come to us. Jesus, God who became one of us. Jesus, God who rescues us. Jesus, God with us and God for us.
May you know the depths of God's grace and mercy in Jesus this Christmas. On behalf of the whole team, we have found it a real privilege to serve and support you this past year. Thank you for all you do to bring the good news of great joy to women, men and children in these islands and beyond.
We pray, as our movement's leaders, you also will know rest and refreshment over these next weeks.