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Christmas isn’t just about a baby being born, it’s about eternal life being given.

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Read John 3:16-21

Scripture gives over 20 reasons Jesus came clothed in humanity. Of all the significant reasons for the incarnation, none may be as important as giving eternal life to humankind. The great sage in Ecclesiastes says, “God has put eternity into humanity’s heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). The desire for eternity is not a Christian longing; it’s a human longing. As humans, we know intuitively we’re created for eternity, and for that reason, it shouldn’t surprise us when Jesus gets into numerous discussions about eternal life. It’s the first question the rich man asks Jesus, “Rabbi, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

We may try to ignore the fact we’re made for eternity, but we’re reminded of our eternal longing every time we say goodbye to someone who passes away. There is something about death that just feels unnatural. But when Jesus comes, he opens the way to eternal life. Sin separates us from the life that flows from the Author of Life, but Jesus initiates the way home. Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Christmas isn’t just about a baby being born, it’s about eternal life being given.

Unfortunately, we have a misunderstanding about eternal life. We often think of eternal life as life in heaven with God. While that’s true, that’s not the only dimension of eternal life. We don’t have to wait until we get to heaven to start living in eternal life with God! Dallas Willard wrote, “Eternal life is the interactive covenant relationship among the Trinity with a human being. It is a life lived in interactive, cooperative, and communicative relationship with God in God’s present and coming kingdom. The fullness of its dimensions is achieved over time through human effort and God’s grace.” The kind of life Jesus came to bring was life eternal in both duration and quality. Eternal life is the kind of life that lasts forever and the kind of life we want to last forever! It’s the kind of eternal life every human soul aches for.

God’s invitation through the Christ of Christmas is to step into this eternal life, today. Certainly, one day we’ll be with Jesus in heaven, but it also means we can be with Jesus right now. In John 17:3, Jesus proclaims, “This is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” The season of Christmas invites us to dwell on the reality we’ll one day be face-to-face with God and there will be no more suffering, tears, or pain. But Christmas also invites us to recognize that the God of the universe is with us in the suffering, tears, and pain of today. Both of these realities are the essence of eternal life. Cultivate an awareness of God’s presence today, and step into the eternal life Jesus came to give!

In the third week of Advent, listen again to the song O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Pay attention to the lyrics about hope and eternity. Consider how the gift of Jesus opens eternity to us and spend a few minutes imagining heaven.

 

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;

Make safe the way that leads on high,

And close the path to misery.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel
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By Ryan Paulson

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