Today’s Reading: John 18:22-24(NIV)
22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby struck him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded. 23 “If I have said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” 24 Then Annas sent him, still bound, to Caiaphas the high priest.
Just recently, I heard a Christmas confession. It was not exactly something I wanted or needed to know, but my children had carried this secret around in their back pocket for awhile. A little white lie can burn a hole in your back pocket, just like too much change stretching the fabric and eventually splitting the seam. Have you ever had a hole in your back pocket that couldn’t be repaired?
Our children love Christmas! They knew that all the decorating and baking and housecleaning and Christmas parties would lead to the biggest day of the calendar year – the celebration of Jesus’ birthday! We would bake a birthday cake on Christmas Eve and sing happy birthday to Jesus after sharing the holiday meal. They looked forward to the early morning gift exchange, and had trouble sleeping the night before, eagerly anticipating the gifts they would find underneath the tree. Jeff and I did our best to keep the presents wrapped and tucked away in what we had hoped would be a safe hiding place until the big day, but I guess our hiding places were not fool proof. We learned that our children apparently knew all about our their Christmas presents beforehand, as they would snoop around after school, unwrapping and rewrapping the edges of the wrapping paper, peeking at the labels to see what they may expect to open on Christmas morning.
It never occurred to us that our children knew what they were getting for Christmas before Christmas. They always seemed genuinely surprised and excited, and to some extent, I’m sure they were. Nevertheless, in this monumental Christmas confession, our children, who are now raising children of their own, would tell you that this choice to sneak a peek was the one Christmas memory they have regretted the most. The inner torment of exposing what should have been a joyous surprise, caused them a great deal of pain.
It makes one wonder about the guards who smacked Jesus around that night, as he stood trial before the high priest. Did they realize that the blood that covered their knuckles was the blood that would save them for all eternity? Why did they hit the One whose only crime was to speak the truth in love?
We are all God’s children, and all of us have sinned. There’s not a single person alive who hasn’t said or done something that they now regret. The Father gave us the Way, the Truth and the Life; all wrapped up in a perfect package. It was the gift that we had prayed for for years. Just like the guards that night, we took His gift for granted, accused him of blasphemy, and smacked Him in the face by our own selfishness and pride.
Christmas confessions are always good for the soul. And because we love our children and know that sometimes they are going to make mistakes, we choose to forgive and love them all the more. I really felt sorry for the guilt they carried for years; yet, it did not change my love for them or dissuade me from continuing to give them gifts.
The love of God is priceless, and Christ knew that we would reject His truth, yet He gave it to us anyway. His gift comes with no strings attached. Take some time away from the busyness of this season, to make your Christmas confession to the Lord. He will hear you and forgive you. All you have to do is ask.
Grace and peace,
Faith UMC -
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