Nearly 2000 years ago, God stepped into human history - in person! The Almighty Creator of all things, was conceived in the womb of a Jewish virgin, saw the light of day in a dirty stable outhouse in an obscure Palestinian village, lived a sinless life, died a brutal death, was raised triumphantly from the grave, and ascended to the right hand of his Father in heaven. Here is where fact is truly stranger than fiction. The everlasting God “contracted to a span; incomprehensibly made man”! Remarkably, not once does the Bible stop to try and explain the mystery and wonder of it. These are amazing facts. Glorious facts. Breath-taking facts. But, in themselves, these amazing facts are not the “gospel”, the good news that broke like a thunderstorm on the ancient world. Two little words transform these mighty, unfathomable facts and make them “good news” - “for us”!
The staggering wonder of the incarnation is not that the Son of God “became flesh”, but that he became flesh “for us” - “Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you”. The glory of the Saviour’s sinless, incarnate life, is not that he lived on this earth, but that he lived “for us” - “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many”. The breath-taking, mind-exploding glory of Christ’s death, is not that he died, but that he died “for us” - “Christ died for our sins”. The stupendous rising from the dead of God’s Son, is not that he was raised to life, but that he was raised to life “for us” - “He was ....raised to life for our justification”. Every moment of our Lord Jesus Christ’s life was lived “for us”! Even now, in the glory of heaven, our Jesus “is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us”; and from that place in heaven’s glory, he will come again at the end of the age “and gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”
All he was and all he did as the incarnate Lord of Glory, was “for us”. It is when we stop and ponder those two little words that we are helped to see the grace, the undeserved kindness of all that God has done in his Son. Consider for a moment how God’s own Word describes us: “sinners”, “enemies”, “rebels”, “ungodly”, “wicked”, “disobedient”, “children of wrath”, “corrupt”, “blind”, “ignorant” and so we could go on, and on! What an unflattering description of men and women without Christ. This is how God sees us. This is what we are. And yet, it was “for us” that God sent his one and only Son into the world! It was not for angels or archangels. It was not for the righteous and the good. It was not for the pleasant and the respectable: “Sinners Jesus came to save.”
I am very conscious that this is an “evangelical basic”. And yet, if your heart is anything like mine, how much we need to be reminded, again and again, of these evangelical basics. When we sing this Christmas time of the incarnation of the eternal God, we need to remember that it was “for us”. When we sing of the Lord Christ leaving his Father’s throne above, when we sing “veiled in flesh the Godhead see”, when we read “no room at the inn”, our constant refrain must be, “And he did it all for me!” The cradle and the cross are not spectacles to behold, they are gospel acts to glory in! All for us! What infinite mercy. What adorable grace.
If we stopped here, however, a false, and potentially deadly conclusion could be drawn. When the Bible tells us that Christ was born for us, and died for us, and rose again for us, and will come again for us, it is not saying that the “for us” is everyone everywhere. The “for us” who benefit from the saving work of Christ, from womb to tomb and beyond, are all those who put their trust in Christ alone to rescue them from the coming wrath and bring them into a restored and right relationship with God. The sin-vanquishing, God-pacifying, glory-inheriting salvation that has been won by Christ, is the possession of all who are “in Christ”, and one thing alone takes you and I into Christ - faith. Self-abandoning trust in God’s Son brings us into full possession of God’s so great salvation. This is why evangelism is not an optional extra for the Christian church. Without faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, men and women, boys and girls will be forever lost; “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might”. Whatever else our Christian calling is, we can all be sure that we have been called in Christ to point our dying world (family, friends, neighbours near and far) to the only Saviour of the world.