Jesus Christ was God’s Finest Hour
The lives of great men and women are often recalled by a single moment that defines them — a snapshot that captures their special passion and typifies their most lasting contribution.
We remember Abraham Lincoln for his brief but powerful Gettysburg address, where he envisioned a nation “of the people, by the people and for the people.” Theologian Martin Luther will be forever immortalized for nailing his 95 theses to the door of Wittenberg’s All Saints Chapel, ushering in the protestant reformation. Michelangelo considered himself a sculptor, but perhaps his best known and most lasting work of art was done from atop a high scaffold, painting the ceiling of Rome’s Sistine Chapel. Winston Churchill captured the hearts of Britain and the world when he boldly declared, as bombs fell on his beloved London, “This will be our finest hour.”
Single snapshots like these can sum up the greatest moments of great lives.
I wonder, if we were to consider our all-powerful, all-knowing, supreme God, what his finest hour would be. Would it be His creation of the heavens and the earth by the very power of His spoken word? Or the dazzling creativity He displayed in the crafting of every living thing on the earth? Some might argue that God’s greatest hour was the creation of man from the dust and of woman from man — but I would suggest that there was something even greater than that.
As we celebrate this season the coming of God in the form of a baby born in Bethlehem, I believe that God’s finest hour began with the birth of His Son, Jesus Christ.
If we are honest with ourselves, each of us would admit a deep longing that cannot be satisfied; a deep inner pain and emptiness that will not go away. Education can’t satisfy it, career and money can’t quiet it, relationships can’t fill it and drugs or alcohol can’t make it disappear. It’s always there because we are made by God and for God, and because of sin we are separated from Him. We know we need Him, and we long to be made right with Him &mash; we just don’t know how.
The coming of Christ was the beginning of God’s finest hour because it addresses this awful separation. God loved us so much that He didn’t leave us separated from Him, trapped in our own sin and its devastating effects. He loved us so much that He came to us! God Himself came to a virgin named Mary and placed His life inside her womb. And that child who was born of Mary — the one born in a manager in the little town of Bethlehem — that child was called “Immanuel,” which means “God with us.” And it didn’t stop there.
The apostle Paul wrote of Jesus, “He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on by the world, was taken up in glory.” (I Timothy 3:16, NIV)
Jesus Christ was God’s finest hour. He was born to us in the flesh, lived a perfect, sinless life, then went to the cross and suffered and died in our place. God placed on Him every sin that will ever be committed, and Jesus willingly took our punishment. Then three days later, the Spirit of God raised Jesus from the dead, breaking forever the power of sin. In Jesus, the price has been paid. In Him, we have forgiveness, and through Him, we are welcomed back into fellowship with Holy God.
So is there a “snapshot” of this great, great hour? I believe there is — and it lies in a story Jesus Himself told: the story of the prodigal son. It’s recorded in Luke 15. A wealthy landowner had two sons, and the youngest demanded his inheritance while his father was still living, left home, and squandered every cent on wild living. When he was at his very lowest, he remembered that even the slaves in his father’s house were well cared for, so he decided to return home, not daring to hope he might be received back as a son, but planning to beg to be allowed home as a slave.
When he returned, his father recognized him from a long way off, and before the son could apologize and plead for charity, the father ran to him, embraced him, smothered him with kisses and said “all is forgiven!” Many, many wrongs had been done by this wayward son, but all the father cared about was his return.
If you could hold in your memory one snapshot of God’s finest hour this season, will you hold this one? The God of the universe loved you so much that through His Son Jesus Christ, He has made a way for you to come back home. And when He sees you coming, He will run to you, wrap His arms around you, and welcome you home, making His finest hour your finest hour.