With five children there is a lot to do with the preparations for Christmas. As they’ve got older my expectations were that it would get a little easier, simpler perhaps. Not so much. Our children are incredibly close and enjoy each others company at every opportunity and when it comes to Christmas they have lots of family traditions that still have to be observed. It’s not solely the traditions in themselves but the fun we all have doing it together. Like digging up a fresh Christmas tree and selecting just the right one so it can house seven stars on top: one for each of us. Then placing the ‘Riga rat’ ( long story) in the branches along with a handmade decoration saying ‘Jesus is the reason for the Season’
Despite all the ‘things’ we do, we have always tried to make Jesus central. The core message whilst raising them, was that this season wasn’t about family time or religious traditions but a celebration of Emmanuel – God with us. This year though I just can’t get away from Jesus wanting to go a little further and He’s been challenging me again this week that God with us leads to Christ in us but more that Christ is All in all.
In the other two blogs on this I’ve been digesting that in all of our activity with and for Jesus He is going a little further to reveal that it’s Jesus that fulfils all our yearnings. Simply Jesus Himself. Whilst talking to Jesus about this He showed me just how far He went. Matthew 26 v 39 says, ‘Going a little further, He fell with his face to the ground and prayed’
It’s from the account of Jesus, on the night before He died praying in the garden of Gethsemane. Looking at all the gospel accounts of that time I could see again the little further Jesus is opening up to us. Reading how Jesus had shared a Passover meal with His disciples, prayed with them and then gone to pray in the garden before being arrested showed me Jesus’ heart in beckoning us on. He showed the way.
God with us
Jesus is sharing a meal with His disciples. He explains to them that He is with them now but will be going back to the father. They see Him as teacher and Lord, share communion and pray together. He explained to them that although He was going away in a flesh sense, in Spirit He was not. He’s with them yet desiring to reveal to them the little further that the broken bread actually means. Partaking of Jesus Himself in this way moves us to:-
Christ in us
In John 17 he shares with us the prayer Jesus uttered just before He went to the garden. Rather than unpack that as a Bible study read it yourself and let the Spirit impart Jesus heart for you to you. HERE It’s enough here to say that Jesus’ heart expressed is interwoven with so much love for the Father and us. He says, ‘I desire…’ He wants us so much to grasp that having left heaven to be born as a babe in human flesh He still lived solely and wholly set apart for the Father’s will. He sets out that although in the world, we are not of it- He’s declaring that although we are flesh we are to live in Spirit just like Him. He’s given us the glory which is Jesus himself IN us.
I’d been sharing this with some friends on Tuesday and Wednesday morning an email arrived with the title,’ The answer to Jesus prayer – it will manifest’ I loved the encouragement Jesus gave me that, yes I was hearing Him but this is on His heart. The email was all about John 17 and how Jesus desires that we know our oneness with Him. People are awakening to the truth of it and that as these wheels have been turning they are now going to be joined together as wheels within a wheel, that the cogs joined together will create forward movement: union in each person with Jesus but a harmony with each other as Christ is central. Which moves us a little further to :-
Christ is All
The little further Jesus went was to lay prostrate on the ground to pray. He was utterly surrendered to God physically to face the cross but also in Spirit out of love- It was the joy of knowing that He would return to the Father and bring many others of us with Him. Yes, Jesus went on to pray ‘if there’s a way take this cup away’ but as Gibson points out, it wasn’t the weakness of Jesus’ flesh that this expressed but the purity of His spirit. He was just about to bear ALL our sickness and All our sin to end the separation we had with God. Yet He consecrated Himself so that we could be in the truth. He set Himself apart to do just the Father’s will, ‘ that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us’
When He prayed He desired that we would be one with Him but also each other and that this relationship, not our activity, would be the witness to the world. You see the glory of the relationship in Jesus leads to Him being ALL- nothing else is added,, or needed – it’s the relationship that is the witness not what we do because of it. Jesus in us and ALL.
As Paul puts it in Colossians 2 v 9-10, ‘in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in Him.’ If we are filled with all that Christ is then we lack nothing and have need for nothing or to do anything. He’s done it all! We have ALL in Jesus Himself.
And then I’m back at the start – Emmanuel – God with us. The night Jesus was born He was central, He brought together Mary and Joseph, He united the riches of the kings with the poorness of the shepherds to come and worship. Heaven was united with earth as the angels rejoiced. Jesus central and bringing all into unity around Himself. As we go into this season, not just Christmas but into 2017, rejoice at Christ being born but go the little further just like Jesus did. We can make room for Him, find a vacancy to accommodate Him. We can rejoice and make Him central but go the whole way: Jesus Himself is the way. Be utterly abandoned and wholeheartedly surrendered to make Him all in all because what ever circumstance we are in “Christ is all : Christ is my fullness; Christ is my supply; Christ is my peace; Christ is my rest; Christ is my meaning; Christ is my hope; Christ is Life “