At this time of the year the cry goes up "Whatever happened to the year behind us? It flew away!" Things coming and things going characterise life. Christmas looms, but shortly it is gone. All those events in the diary came and went.
A sobering truth is that we all come and go. Every daily newspaper lists the comings, that is, the newly-born, and in another column, the goings, that is, the deceased. Generation follows generation. It's gone on for a long time.
We would be greatly mistaken if we thought that the birth of Jesus was just like the rest. That is, he came and he went. And it is a very serious mistake. It allows people to place Him in the same category as others who have made a mark or gained a following. There are important differences.
1. Jesus didn't simply come into the world as others do. He already existed before his birth in Bethlehem. He was in fact sent here on a mission by the Father.
2. There was no earthly father. The conception was miraculous.
3. His coming was foretold numbers of times by prophets who lived hundreds of years before His birth. These statements can be read in the Old Testament. One reads "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called, Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (see Isaiah 9:6).
4. He claimed to be equal with the Father, that is, he claimed to be God.
5. Note that nothing of the above can be said about anyone else in history. No other leader or religious figure made any claims like these.
6. Yes, Jesus left this scene, but not through death. He ascended, very much alive. But his going is to be followed by his second coming. He promised this and our world is shaping the context for his arrival, perhaps soon.
Much more could be said about Christ's uniqueness. It puts paid to the idea that all religions are equal and to be treated that way. That is far from true. No other religion offers a Saviour from sin, or any assurance of forgiveness. Christianity does. Other religions without exception leave you to save yourself. It all depends on you. The Christian message is that it is done; Jesus took our place on the cross. Eternal life is a gift to be received.
Before any more time passes and the opportunity disappears, we should reach out and accept what God offers us in Christ. Happy Christmas. •