** I was told that maybe I should warn you: this post is long....but it contains a beautiful love story. So, if you have the time, read on:-)
God wrote, “I love you”- he wrote it in the sky, and on the earth, and under the sea. He wrote His message everywhere! The way a kitten chases her tail. The way red poppies grow wild. The way a dolphin swims. And God put it into words, too, and wrote it in a Book. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne-everything- to rescue the one he loves. You see, the best thing about this Story is- it’s true. There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them. It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at he center of the Story, there is a baby. Every Story in the Bible whispers this baby’s name. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle- the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture. And this is no ordinary baby. This is the Child upon whom everything would depend. This is the Child who would one day- but wait…. Our Story starts where all good stories start. Right at the very beginning….In the beginning there was nothing. And out of the nothing, God made everything…God spoke. That’s all. And whatever he said, it happened. God saw all that he had made and he loved it. But God saved the best for last. From the beginning, God had a shining dream in his heart. He would make people to share his Forever Happiness. They would be his children, and the world would be their perfect home. So, God breathed life into Adam and Eve. “You are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever made” God said. God loved them with all of his heart. And Adam and Eve joined in the song of the stars and the streams and the wind in the trees, the wonderful song of love to the One who made them. God looked at everything he had made. “Perfect” he said. And it was. But all the stars and the mountains and oceans and galaxies and everything were nothing compared to how much God loved His children. He would move heaven and earth to be near them. Always. Whatever happened, whatever it cost him, he would always love them. And so the wonderful love story began….
Adam and Eve lived happily together in their beautiful new home…..for a while…You see, God had a horrible enemy. This enemy wanted to stop this love story right here and now. The snake asked Eve, “Does God really love you?” Now, a terrible lie entered the world. It would never leave. It would live on in every human heart, whispering to every one of God’s children: “God doesn’t love me.” When Eve believed the lie, a terrible pain came to God’s heart. You see, sin had come into God’s perfect world. And it would never leave. God’s children would be always running away from him and hiding in the dark. Their hearts would break now, and never work properly again. God couldn’t let his children live forever, not in such pain, not without him. There was only one way to protect them. “You will have to leave the garden now”, God told his children, his eyes filling w/ tears. “This is no longer your true home, it’s not the place for you anymore.” Well, in any other story, it would be all over and that would have been…The End. But not in this Story. God loved his children too much. Even though he knew he would suffer, God had a plan- a magnificent dream. One day, he would get his children back. One day, he would make the world their perfect home again. And one day, he would wipe away every tear from their eyes. You see, no matter what, in spite of everything, God would love his children- with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love. And though they would forget him, and run from him, deep in their hearts, God’s children would miss him always, and long for him- lost children yearning for their home. Before Adam and Eve left the garden, God whispered a promise: “It will not always be so! I will come to rescue you! And when I do, I’m going to do battle against the snake. I’ll get rid of the sin and the dark and the sadness you let in here. I’m coming back for you!” And he would. One day, God himself would come.
Before the beginning of time, he had another plan. A plan not to destroy the world, but to rescue it- a plan to one day send his own Son- the Rescuer. The only way back to heaven was a Person. People could never reach up to heaven or get there on their own, so Heaven would have to come down to them. And one day it would. Many many years later, suddenly a bright star appeared. It blazed in the night and made the other stars look pale beside it. God put it there when his baby Son was born- to be like a spotlight. Lighting up the darkness and showing people the way to him. You see, God was like a new daddy- he couldn’t keep the good news to himself. He’d been waiting all these years for this moment, and now he wanted to tell everyone…..He sent a splendid choir to sing of his Son. Where did he send this choir? To shepherds. And they listened. And they followed until they reached a stable. They caught their breath and tiptoed inside. They knelt on the dirt floor. They had heard about the Promised Child and now he was here. Heaven’s Son. The Maker of the Stars. A baby sleeping in his mother’s arms. This baby would be like that bright star shining in the sky that night. A Light to chase away darkness- Helping people to see. And the darker the night got, the brighter the star would shine. But wait. This wasn’t a palace. Could he be King? There weren’t any guards. Or servants. Or flags. No red carpets. There wasn’t anything. Did they get it wrong? Or was this what God meant? Yes! This child was a new kind of King. Though he was the Prince of Heaven, he had become poor. Though he was the Mighty God, he had become a helpless baby. And this is how the Great Rescue began. As years passed and this baby grew into a man, He began to mend God’s broken world. Jesus began to show people that God would always love them- with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love. They didn’t need to hide anymore, or be afraid, or ashamed. They could stop running away from God. And they could run to him instead. See- Jesus came to sing to God’s children. That same song that was from the beginning. A song not only with his voice, but with His whole life- so that God’s children could remember it and join in and sing it too. One night, Jesus told his closest friends God’s rescue plan. “My life will break, and God’s broken world will mend. My heart will tear apart- and your hearts will heal…I will now die instead of you. My blood will wash away your sins. You’ll be clean on the inside- in your hearts. You will be sad when I go, but God’s Helper will come. Then you will be filled up with a Forever Happiness that won’t ever leave. “Jesus then went to one of His favorite spots- an olive garden. There Jesus cried. “Papa! Father!! Is there any other way to get your children back? To get rid of the poison and heal their hearts?” But Jesus knew- there was no other way. All the poison of sin was going to have to go into his own heart. God was going to have to pour into Jesus’ heart all the sadness and brokenness that was in people’s hearts. He was going to pour into Jesus’ body all the sickness that was in people’s bodies. God was going to blame his son for everything that had gone wrong. It would crush Jesus. But there was something else, something even worse. People lost from God. Not being close to God was like punishment. Jesus was going to take that punishment. Jesus knew what that meant… it would break his heart in two…
You see, some people don’t understand. It wasn’t the nails that kept Jesus on the cross that day. It was love. Jesus cried, “Papa! Where are you?” God didn’t answer. He turned His face away from His Boy. Tears rolled down Jesus’ face. The face of the One who would wipe away every tear from every eye. The full force of God’s fierce anger at sin was coming down on His own Son. Instead of His people. It was the only way God could destroy sin and not destroy his children whose hearts were filled with sin. Then Jesus shouted, “It is finished.”
Now, you might think the great Rescuer is dead…now what? Well, he didn’t stay dead. And because he came alive again his friends knew everything would somehow be all right. As Jesus walked again w/ his friends, he told them he had to go be w/ His Father and prepare a place for them. They panicked and asked how to get there. Jesus said that he was the way. Jesus also told them to tell everyone how much God loves them. And that the Truth overcomes that horrible lie. God really does love His children!! He doesn’t hold out on us. Before Jesus left this earth for good, He said, “Death is not the end of you. You can live forever with your Father in heaven because I rescued the world! I love you.I love you. I love you.” The most wonderful thing about this story, you see, is that it can be your story too!
~A rough, changed, shortened portion of The Jesus Storybook Bible
Because of Our Rescuer,
David, Emily, John David,
Hudson, and Graham Gossett
We hope you all have a wonderful Christmas Season!