“Reactions to Christ’s Birth” series (post #7)
That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:9-13, N.K.J.V.)
In regards to the news of Christ’s birth, you can talk all you want about the reactions of Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the wise men, Herod, and the Jewish religious leaders. In the end, though, the only reaction that gets into your wheelhouse is your reaction. Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the wise men all reacted appropriately to Jesus becoming flesh and dwelling among men, while Herod and the Jewish religious leaders reacted inappropriately to that incarnation. But what about you? How have you reacted to it?
Even more importantly than how you have reacted to the news of Christ’s birth is the matter of how you have reacted to the news that He: grew up, lived a sinless life, performed miracles that proved His divinity, died on a Roman cross as the sacrifice for your sins, arose from the dead, ascended back to heaven, and right now offers salvation to you if you will (as our text passage says) receive Him as your personal Savior. Obviously, that sweet little baby in the manger didn’t stay an infant and didn’t stay in that manger. No, He became an adult who did business with the human race, and now the human race must do business with Him one way or the other by either receiving Him or rejecting Him.
This idea of receiving Jesus goes hand in hand with the Bible’s teaching that salvation is a gift that can only be received or rejected. Consider the following passages (all from the N.K.J.V.):
- For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
- For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
- Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15)
You see, the Bible so inseparably links Jesus with the gift of salvation that the two become one and the same. The only way to receive the gift is to receive Jesus. As evidence of this, think about John 3:16. That verse teaches that God loved the world so much that He gave it a gift. But what was that gift? It was a person: God’s Son, Jesus. Similarly, in John 4:10, Jesus tells a Samaritan woman, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water” (N.K.J.V.). Do you see how the “living water” (a description of salvation) and Jesus are the same? The only way the woman could receive the living water was for her to receive Jesus.
Actually, the Bible uses various terminologies to describe how a person gets saved. Many passages talk about believing in Jesus (John 3:16, Romans 10:14, etc.), but other passages talk about putting faith in Him (Romans 3:21-31, Colossians 1:3-5, etc.), trusting in Him (Ephesians 1:11-14, 1 Timothy 4:10), calling upon Him (Romans 10:9-13), or coming to Him (John 5:39-40, John 6:35-37). Revelation 3:20 even describes it as opening the door after hearing Jesus knock.
It’s not that these passages are describing different types of salvation experiences. The point is that the genuine salvation experience will incorporate all of these descriptions. This brings us back to the terminology of our text passage. What does it mean for a person to receive Jesus? It means, in regards to salvation, that the person believes in Him, puts faith in Him, trusts in Him, calls upon Him, comes to Him, and opens the door to Him.
This Christmas, or any other time of the year for that matter, you need to make sure that you have truly received the gift of salvation that is Jesus Christ. Personally, whenever I present the gospel, I usually use the words “believe in Him” in reference to what the individual needs to do concerning Jesus. I favor this terminology because it’s the one most frequently used in the New Testament. As I’ve pointed out, though, any of the terminologies will work if the decision itself is real. It’s the decision’s authenticity that is paramount, not the specific wording.
But make no mistake, that decision or lack of it is what determines each individual’s eternal destiny. I’m happy to report that all scriptural indications are that Mary, Joseph, those shepherds, and those wise men didn’t just rightly receive the news about Christ’s birth; they also rightly received Him. Again I ask you, have you done this? If you haven’t, then I’m not happy to report that you’ll spend this Christmas abiding under the condemnation of God (John 3:18). But if you have, then you’ll spend it as God means for you to spend it. The choice is yours to make because the gift has already been given to you in the person of Jesus Christ. All that’s left to be decided now is, will you reject the gift or receive it?