Which came first...

There were times in seminary when I would spend inordinate amounts of time seeking the answers to my most burning theological questions.  This was a period in my life when I was immersed in theological studies and surrounded by guys who were seeking to fill their quest for knowledge just as I was.  Looking back over those years, it was a tremendous time of spiritual growth which laid the foundation for me to continue seeking to know God's truth that I still pursue today.  But there were also those moments where it seemed I would get worked up over theological minutia which, in the grand scheme of things, really weren't busting a scalp vein over.

As the holiday seasons would roll around, I would mull over in my mind this particular question: "Which is more important to the Christian faith, Christmas or Easter?"  Like a good and sometimes over zealous seminary student, I attempted to reason out everything that I could in my faith in an effort to make sense of what I believed.  The importance of redemption won through the death and resurrection of Christ was not lost on me, but I also had to ask, "If He wasn't born at all, how could He die?"  It was like trying to answer the age-old question of which came first, the chicken or the egg (just to set the record straight, I'm gonna say it was the chicken).

I finally settled on the view that what we celebrate and recognize at Easter time was more important, for in dying Jesus gives us life.  Yet as the years continued to pass and I pondered the original question, I finally had to ask myself, "Does one have to more critical than the other?"  Should I place more importance on Christ's sacrifice instead of His advent?  Is this even necessary?  Indeed, aren't they irrevocably joined with one another?

My study this morning brought me to the beginning of John chapter 20, with Mary Magdalene approaching the tomb of Jesus and finding the stone rolled away.  The other gospels paint an even more vivid picture of the empty tomb and the mind boggling reality that Jesus was indeed risen from the grave.  Earlier in John's gospel (John 18:37) Jesus stands before Pilate and, when confronted with the reality of a certain death by crucifixion, looks that man in the eye and declares, "I was born for this."  That's it!

Jesus was born to die.  One cannot separate the two from each other.  From the moment Christ set foot into our world wearing human flesh, His mission was the cross.  This was the plan from the foundation of the world, a birth inexplicably tied to a death.  An inflated quest for knowledge (which is really just fodder for debate) might still try to argue which one carries more weight, but what will that accomplish?  Jesus' birth and death, they are all part of God's redemptive purpose for mankind.  This is why He came.

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