I got to thinking about our calendar today. We are here in the year 2022 A.D., with A.D. signifying “Anno Domini” or “the year of our Lord.” It’s interesting to me that the3 calendar dating system is based on the birth of Jesus rather than His death, which was much more significant for us. After all, we derive very little from His birth other than some wonderful stories and a rich Christmas tradition. But from His death and resurrection, we are blessed with Salvation healing, deliverance and eternal life. We are also blessed with the ability to become a new creation in Christ, putting away that old man in order to take on the new man that Christ will form within us as we grow and mature. His death brings new life to whoever accepts this great sacrifice that He made.
It was not pretty, that’s for sure. First, His best friends couldn’t even stay awake to pray with Him. To give them a little credit, it was around 1 in the morning when they arrived in the garden. But he had told them He was going away, and was going to die. Certainly, that would keep them awake, wouldn’t it? Then he was betrayed by a kiss from one of His closest disciples. The Roman soldiers led Him to the Sanhedrin, where He was slapped and ridiculed by many. Then top Pilate’s court, where he was ordered to be beaten with many stripes. They ripped open His back with cat-O-Nine tails and it was oozing with blood when they out a purple garment on Him and a crown of thorns, which dug deep into His head. They mocked Him and spit on Him before pulling the robe back off, opening again the stripes on His back. He was rejected by the crowds that so eagerly welcomed Him just 4 days earlier, and they cried out to have Him crucified. Through all this, He never protested or complained. Then they made Him carry His cross uphill to Calvary, where they nailed Him to that cross, putting spikes through His hands and feet.
Isaiah 53:7 says He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
He gave up His life – they did not take it from Him. The ultimate sacrifice for our sins. The sinless Lamb of God, who took away the sins of the world. This was foretold by John the Baptist (John 1:29).
He was placed in a borrowed tomb and a stone was rolled over the opening and sealed with a Roman seal. Guards were placed at the door. But three days later, the stone rolled away and he came out alive! Alive for all to see. Alive for you and me! Alive to bring us the promise of eternal life. What a glorious day that was.
I started to wonder why the calendar was not set to that date – the date he rose from the grave. After all, that is the day we gained new life, a new beginning. Why is that not the day we began a new era? After all, all things were made new, right? Jesus Christ had given the ultimate sacrifice so we could be free from this earthly life and all its entanglements. God had given His only Son just so we could have a way to eternal life with Him, and a life free from condemnation here on this earth. Shouldn’t this be the day we set as ground zero on the time line before and after Christ?
Then I started thinking about the other sacrifice Jesus gave. We think about the sacrifice of the cross often. But what about that sacrifice He made to come to earth in this place To give up His royal standing to come to earth as a mere mortal man. He was used to unlimited power, yet he became powerless. He was used to the praise of angles, yet he came to the praise of mere shepherds. He was used to having dominion over all things to being dependent for everything. He went from creator to created, from all knowing to knowing nothing, from being all places to being restricted to a mothers manger, from a throne to a stable.
When I think about these two sacrifices that Christ made, I think the first one was the more difficult decision for Him. Giving up heaven for an earthly existence was harder then giving up earth for a heavenly existence. I start to consider the humility it took to come here in the first place and realize that is a much deeper humility than the humility of the cross. And I realize that new life began in the cradle, not in His rising from the grave. If He had not decided to humble himself to the lowly human life he would face, He would never have found the strength to humble Himself to the cross.
Can I even begin to find this humility for my life? Can I find a way to come down out of the clouds in areas like my financial state, or job expertise, or the vast knowledge I possess or wisdom I have gained? Can I put aside the thought that I did some of this on my own, without God’s help? Or thinking that this was just a fluke and filled with luck? Can I bring myself to realize that I am nothing without Him, and all things I have accomplished I have done so because of Him. He has guided and directed me to this point in my life, and I should not take the credit for any of it. Instead, I should realize this new life that I have attained through His sacrifice is His plan, His wisdom, His guidance and His influence on my life. I cannot come to this place of understanding except by humbling myself. Humbling myself to new life being formed in me, just like it was formed in a manger tow thousand the twenty-two years ago. He brought new life with Him when he humbled Himself in the manger, and allowed me to partake of it when he humbled Himself to the cross. This is why the calendar says 2022 instead of 1983 today.