Are You Afraid of the Christ of Christmas?
Here it is, the day after Christmas. Weâ€™ve heard his name, sung of him in countless carols, and yet many hesitate, fearful that if they entrust themselves to his love and care he will abandon them or disappoint them or fail to live up to expectations. This challenge from Jonathan Edwards seems uniquely appropriate this year as we consider how to respond to the Christ of Christmas. Keep reading...
Here it is, the day after Christmas. Weâ€™ve heard his name, sung of him in countless carols, and yet many hesitate, fearful that if they entrust themselves to his love and care he will abandon them or disappoint them or fail to live up to expectations. This challenge from Jonathan Edwards seems uniquely appropriate this year as we consider how to respond to the Christ of Christmas.
"What are you afraid of, that you dare not venture your soul upon Christ? Are you afraid that he cannot save you; that he is not strong enough to conquer the enemies of your soul? But how can you desire one stronger than the 'mighty God' as Christ is called in Isa. 9:6? Is there need of greater than infinite strength? Are you afraid that he will not be willing to stoop so low as to take any gracious notice of you? But then, look on him, as he stood in the ring of soldiers, exposing his blessed face to be buffeted and spit upon by them! Behold him bound with his back uncovered to those that smote him! And behold him hanging on the cross! Do you think that he that had condescension enough to stoop to these things, and that for his crucifiers, will be unwilling to accept of you if you come to him? Or, are you afraid that if he does accept of you, that God the Father will not accept of him for you? But consider, will God reject his own Son, in whom his infinite delight is, and has been, from all eternity, and who is so united to him, that if he should reject him he would reject himself?
What is there that you can desire should be in a Savior that is not in Christ? Or, in what way would you desire a Savior to be otherwise than Christ is? What excellency is there lacking? What is there that is great or good; what is there that is venerable or winning; what is there that is adorable or endearing; or what can you think of that would be encouraging, which is not to be found in the person of Christ?
Would you have your Savior to be great and honorable, because you are not willing to be beholden to a mean person? And, is not Christ a person honorable enough to be worthy that you should be dependent on him; is he not a person high enough to be appointed to so honorable a work as your salvation? Would you not only have a Savior of high degree, but would you have him, notwithstanding his exaltation and dignity, to be made also of low degree, that he might have experience of afflictions and trials, that he might learn by the things that he has suffered, to pity them that suffer and are tempted? And has not Christ been made low enough for you and has he not suffered enough?
Would you not only have him possess experience of the afflictions you now suffer, but also of that amazing wrath that you fear hereafter, that he may know how to pity those that are in danger, and are afraid of it? This Christ has had . . . a greater sense of it, a thousand times, than you have, or any man living has.
Would you have your Savior to be one who is near to God, so that his mediation might be prevalent with him? And can you desire him to be nearer to God than Christ is, who is his only-begotten Son, of the same essence with the Father? And would you not only have him near to God, but also near to you, that you may have free access to him? And would you have him nearer to you than to be in the same nature, united to you by a spiritual union, so close as to be fitly represented by the union of the wife to the husband, of the branch to the vine, of the member to the head; yea, so as to be one spirit? For so he will be united to you, if you accept of him. Would you have a Savior that has given some great and extraordinary testimony of mercy and love to sinners, by something that he has done, as well as by what he says? And can you think or conceive of greater things than Christ has done? Was it not a great thing for him, who was God, to take upon him human nature; to be not only God, but man thenceforward to all eternity? But would you look upon suffering for sinners to be a yet greater testimony of love to sinners, than merely doing, though it be ever so extraordinary a thing that he has done? And would you desire that a Savior should suffer more than Christ has suffered for sinners? What is there lacking, or what would you add if you could, to make him more fit to be your Savior?â€
â€œThe Excellency of Christ,â€ in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, rev. by Edward Hickman, vol. 1 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1979 ), pp. 686-87.