ImageAll of us have seen those spectacular publications in which the most influential people of the decade or the century are chosen.  They cover many fields – the sciences, humanities, government, inventors, and world explorers.  When most of us read their biographies and their achievements we are in awe of their accomplishments.  Many of them let us know that the purpose of their lives was to achieve this particular discovery that humanity will benefit from.  One can summarize their lives by saying, "I was born in order that I might ….."

When we read the Christmas story and then continue to read the gospels, we find out that the purpose for Christ's birth was so that he would die.  If we read the Christmas stories carefully we find the prediction of His death – in the gifts of the magi and in the blessing of Simeon.

As Jesus travels across Judea and Galilee he tells the people that he came to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28)

As the time approaches to go to Jerusalem, Jesus tells them that there He will not be heralded as the king, but crucified as a criminal. (Matthew 20:19) 

In the week leading to his crucifixion, He prays to his Father: "Father, the hour has arrived. Glorify your son so that your son may glorify you." (John 17:1)

Yet in order for this death to be effective and efficacious, for this death to be of supreme value to the human race, Jesus had to live a sinless life.  He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, lived in the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and while tempted in every way that we have been tempted, He remained sinless. 

The author of the book of Hebrews combines the birth of Jesus Christ with his sacrifice: "Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:  ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me, with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.  Then I said: Here I am – it is written about me in the scroll – I have come to do your will, O God.'" (Hebrews 10:5-7)

The will of the Father for the Son was to speak to us the words of the Father and to present to us an exemplary life.  It was because in every aspect of his life Jesus Christ fulfilled the will of the Father, that on the cross he was able to say: "It is finished."  He heard the voice of the Father when he was baptized, he heard the voice of the Father in Jerusalem and as he was dying He knew that the Father was pleased with his beloved Son.  Without his death we were justifiably condemned and by His death we are declared justified, as though we have never sinned.  And all of this because the Son of God, the sinless one died in my place and in your place.  This is what makes old carols and new carols so glorious.

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Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan

George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...