As we approach Christmas, we remember that Jesus’ birth is just one part of the grand story of redemption. In this article – originally published in a 1923 issue of the EVANGELICAL VISITOR – writer Fred Hahn expertly explores Jesus’ deep love for us through his character and life.
Most every one has possession of some degree of love in their life, parents love their children, and friends love friends, and folk who please us, and show honor, and respect are worthy of our love. But God commendeth His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.
If it were possible for us to grasp the idea of the great heart of God, the care he had for the human family, the purpose he has in our lives, the watchful eye that is kept over us, we would appreciate more than we do, and give him a better life of devotion and service.
His Miraculous Birth and Life
When our minds meditate on the wonderful offering of God, sending Jesus into the world in the form of sinful flesh, to be born in all obscurity, take upon himself the life of the lowly, allowed himself to be persecuted, betrayed, misrepresented, buffeted, and finally crucified. We can only get a faint idea of the love of God to man.
We think of the thirty years he spent in Nazareth, three and one half more were tireless in helping humanity, we think of his unselfishness, thoughtfulness, and care for us, how he prayed, how he loved (“having loved his own he loved them unto the end.”) We think of the many different scenes in His life, His satanic temptations, miraculous birth. His beautiful boyhood days, His obedience to the Word of God. His attendance at the temple service, the great, and many miracles he was responsible for, His great acts of unselfishness brought worldly applause, riding into Jerusalem the people cried, and worshipped him. The common thousands sing their grateful hearts out, as they lovingly strew the roadway with garments, and living green.
Our hearts still follow Him, calling his disciples out of the different walks of life, men of varied personality, follow the lowly Nazarene.
We sit down for a while to listen to the wonderful words that came from his lips- We imagine we hear him preaching that sermon on the mount, He gathers the people together and with a few small loaves, and fishes satisfies their natural want. We follow our blessed Christ to the homes of the sorrowing, the homes that were made happy by his healing touch, the hearts that were made to rejoice because of His presence, how many weary footsteps were lightened because Jesus said something that inspired faith and courage. What His meeting meant to the woman at the well, to Mary and Martha, the toiling fishermen who had toiled all night. Oh! how many beautiful things happened during them three years, and a half, but our hearts are saddened when- we think of the reception this beautiful life received from the hands of sinful men. He came unto his own and his own received Him not.
The Betrayal of our Lord
He had made all preparations, and invited his near friends to supper, those who were closest to his heart, one of that company leaving the table, and going out into the dark night, Jesus, and His company, leaving for the Mount of Olives. His great trial of agony and intense spiritual suffering, the soldiers armed with swords, and spears, arresting him, his pretended trial before the two chief leaders, the courtyard with the soldiers ‘ cruel mockery, and the thorn crown, and poor Peter by the fire. Then the Jewish senate’s official action and Pilate and Herod.
Then Pilate again conscience pricked, and cowardly, with the crowds jerring, and the coldly passionate priests insisting, and the terrible scourging, and dramatic hand washing and at last the decision wrung out by the bitter hate given out by official cowardice.
One could never tell the story if he were not held in the hard grip of a great purpose, our shoes, and hat go off, and with bared face, and hushed pained heart, and watching, staring eyes we see the Man laid down upon the crossed logs and the spikes are driven into sensitive hands, and feet, then the cross lifted, and dropped roughly into the hole prepared, the Man’s full weight coming down on the nails. “It is nine of the morning clock” as the nails are being driven the man is speaking quietly, “forgive them,” The soldiers don’t understand, they greedily throw dice for the cast off garment. The leaders dicker over the kingly inscription over the man’s head. The passing crowds with morbid curiosity, throng, and jeer yonder in the group of pain-stricken faces, John’s arm is tenderly supporting the woman of the grief-stricken spirit. In the thick of it all the one masterly man is on the middle cross. He forgets all else for the personal touch with the man hanging by his side- Again he turns, and quietly speaks to His mother, and then to John. What thoughtfulness, what self-mastery, and now it is high noon, the Sun is at its flood, then the sudden fearsome darkness, Noon suddenly becomes midnight, and a terror spreads in the very air and seizes men’s vitals. What is this? Who can this be? and for three long hours that strange darkness, the breaking open of the temple, the graves giving forth their dead, can we picture the tragedy, then the distinct cry heard “Why hast thou forsaken me?” That’s the hardest thing for the suffering man, the loss of sweet consciousness of this Father’s presence, but it’s past now; then the intense thirst, but nothing will be drunk that dulls in the slightest, for even the briefest moment His masterful consciousness.
Then the great shout of victory (“It is finished”) The thing is done. The battles fought. It’s over now. Victory! full victory then the quietly breathed prayer. “Into thy hands I command my spirit, and then the most striking thing of all. He yielded up his spirit. He was not overcome by death, He yielded to death, masterful to the last breath.
And the Roman spear revealed how death came, the blood and water, separation, tell, of a broken heart, the tense suffering of spirit. It was that that snapped the life cord when he yielded up his spirit and from that cross of suffering rings out to all men the cry. “I gave my life for thee.”
He’s Coming Again
The satanic powers had thought things had been done to defeat the plan of God, soldiers kept a close watch at his grave in order that no human means might deceive the people, but how foolish to try to stand up against the hand of God.
In God’s own time, Jesus arose, a victor over this life, death, and the grave, after leaving instruction to those he had chosen God caught him away. The disciples watching him soar into heaven caught the message. “This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. They returned to Jerusalem with full purpose to do the will of God.
This version of the article has been slightly edited for length and clarity; read the full, original article on in the December 24, 1923 issue of the EVANGELICAL VISITOR available online from the Brethren in Christ Archives.