Christmas is here. Presents. Trees. Lights. Carols. Snow. Decorations. Shopping. Egg Nog. Family. And somewhere in the midst of all that... JESUS! Jesus - the son of God, born of a virgin while she was resting in a stable in Bethlehem.
What an amazing figure in world history! For 2,000 years, he has never been forgotten... in fact, before he was three, his murder had been attempted; a bunch of shepherds had received an incredible vision about where he had come from; he had moved to Egypt; and foreign dignitaries had worshipped him giving him expensive gifts.
But, why did he come? If the Bible is true, and Jesus really is the Son of God, why did he leave the splendour and beauty and glory and holiness and wonder and perfection of heaven to come to the dirt and sin and trouble and sadness of earth?
Why did Jesus come to earth? It is a most crucial question, for a wrong answer here could lead us to some awful problems
• If he came to teach morals - then we will think his life was about ethics.
• If he came to fix the environment - then his life was about trees and plants.
• If he came to model manners and nice living - then we will place our bibles beside the December issue of Martha Stewart Living!
A wrong understanding of why Jesus came will take us in all sorts of wrong directions! It is crucial we know why God came to earth. So, let us listen to His own words (as an adult) explaining why it was He came.
Jesus and Zacchaeus - Luke 19
19:1He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today." 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, "He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner." 8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold." 9 And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."
Now, here is a most remarkable story! Zacchaeus, as far as we know, had never heard, seen or spoken to this man Jesus before this day - yet, in the space of a few minutes, his entire life was turned upside down! From a lying, deceptive cheat, Zacchaeus was transformed into a new creature - full of love and mercy and kindness that proved itself by his giving away the wealth that he had always lived for. Zacchaeus had been saved! He had been brought from darkness to light - death to life! He had become a Christian - and Jesus sums up this event with these powerful words: "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."
Here, in a nutshell, is the one great purpose of Jesus coming to earth. And it is echoed throughout the New Testament in different ways and with different words - but all with the same meaning and thought. Why did Jesus come? Jesus came to save sinners!
Jesus' meeting with Zacchaeus was not the only time he told men why he came to earth and two other occasions deserve a closer look. Once, when addressing some sins in the lives of His own followers, Jesus told his disciples that they should model their life's purpose after His.
25 But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Another time, while calling men to repent of their sins and believe on Him for eternal life, Jesus again made clear why it was He came to earth.
44 And Jesus cried out and said, "Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment--what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me."
Similarly, those who wrote of Christ after His death and resurrection understood this mission and they echoed it in their letters.
Listen to Paul in Galatians 4...
3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles  of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
Or the Apostle John in 1 John 5
20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
Or, Paul again as he writes to Timothy (1 Timothy 1)
15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen
1 Timothy 2
3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
So here is the one great purpose of Jesus Christ - the reason for the season - to seek and to save the Lost!
• Zacchaeus - deceptive traitors and evil-doers
• Paul - Christian haters and murderers
• John - seekers of God who have not yet found Him
• and YOU - in whatever category you fit (godless, god-hater, god-seeker or otherwise), with whatever sins, in whatever shape, with whatever baggage, with whatever past and whatever future...
When you think about it, this is a most incredible purpose - mind-boggling really. For He is not seeking and saving "nice people" like
• the women and children trapped on a sinking ship
• your moral neighbours who are having some financial problems
• upstanding citizens overcome with life-threatening cancer...
I mean, he may save those people (and we pray He does), but what He is really seeking, regardless of what we are on the outside, is SINNERS.
"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost"
"The Lost" is a term that means the same thing as "sinners." These people (the Lost) are called many different things in the Bible - none of them very flattering. In one passage alone they are identified by 4 different words that all teach the same idea. Look at Romans 5:
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person--though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die-- 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
When you are not a Christian, before you are saved, when you are a part of "the Lost," the Bible says you are weak, ungodly, a sinner and an enemy of God. These words are not flattering. They do not smooth and gratify our tender egos! Yet, they are Truth!
Think what it might be like if you contracted some rare virus with no known cure. You go to see your doctor and your doctor properly diagnoses that this virus is the cause of your ill-health. Now, which would you prefer? For your doctor to deceive you and simply say, "Take two aspirins and call me next week", or for him to tell you the truth: "You are going to die?" Most of us would prefer the truth!
Just because the news is bad does not mean it is offensive. Yet, millions have been offended by the news that they are God's enemy and have missed His real offer to save them because of this offence! Don't let your reaction to the truth drive you away from the cure!
This Jesus, who came to save sinners, will not save a one until they can see their sin for what it is and see their lostness for what it is! If you are so busy yelling at the doctor for telling you the Truth you will never hear about the cure!
But there is a cure! To use another Biblical picture - Jesus was both the Priest and the Sacrifice! As a priest he was making intercession between us and God, offering a sacrifice, namely, Himself! He was offering his own life in the place of ours on that cross. That is why He can say that he came to seek and to save the lost. Not only is he calling men to God, but he is providing the way for them to get there!
But, just as
• Zacchaeus got down out of the tree and took Jesus to his home
• and Paul got up from the ground and went to hear from Jesus in Damascus
• and John left the fishing nets with his father and followed Jesus
So, you too, must hear his call and obey it! And calling is exactly what He is doing now. As His word is preached, and the Bible is read, he is calling... calling you to come to Him, to leave behind the world and its treasures and to make him your ultimate delight!
And He has told you how to do this...
• You must REPENT - acknowledge that you are his enemy, that you are weak, that you are a sinner, and as a result you are ungodly and unfit for His heaven.
• You must BELIEVE - put your faith in and on the person of Jesus as your Saviour, trusting in Him and His perfect work of atonement for sinners like you.
No one who comes to God will come by any other means. All who have come to God have come in this way. There is only one way to God - one way to heaven - and that is through repentance from sin and faith in Jesus.
And this must be done soon - right now - for God has appointed a day when His son will come back to the earth, only, He will not return in the same fashion as His first coming. This time He will bring with Him
• all His glory
• all His angels
• all His power
• in all His splendour and majesty
When He comes this second time, it will not be to call men to believe in Him for salvation. He is doing that work right now! No, when He comes this second time it will be for the purpose of judgment.
Jesus said to His disciples as it is recorded in Mark 13
24 "But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
32 "But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard, keep awake.  For you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants  in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35 Therefore stay awake--for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the cock crows,  or in the morning-- 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake."
Or, as Matthew recounts in chapter 25
31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.
This future judgment is part of what compelled the missionary Paul to preach in Acts 17:
30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead."
Where will you be in that day? There is only one way to be sure - you must get right with God today.
At Christmas we remember the baby in a manger. Is that memory just a pleasant picture that conjures up nostalgic and happy thoughts for you, or is it a picture of the incredible news that was proclaimed by the angels to the shepherds...
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 "Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"
15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us."
Right now he has made known to you this same good news. "Christ the Saviour was born!" Turn to Him. Be born again. He was as much the Saviour of the world in that manger as He was on that cross. The entire purpose of His coming was to save people like you from their sins and the punishment of those sins.
What more does Jesus need to do for you than He has already done? He has provided the way of escape from death itself! Why won't you ask Him to save you?
Perhaps you think you don't need saving? Well, the bible says you do. Perhaps you think your life is not that bad? Well, the Bible says it is! Perhaps you think that there are many ways to God? The Bible says there is only one way to God. And that one way is a Person - Jesus Christ.
Dear reader, please do not be fooled. You need this Jesus and you need Him right now. Turn to Him and be saved!