Today’s Reading: John 18:29-30(NIV)
29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?” 30 “If He were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed Him over to you.”
5 But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.
Every year at Christmas, the President of the United States issues a Presidential Pardon to one or more people who are incarcerated for the crimes they committed. I imagine this is a difficult decision, given the numbers he must work with. The US has the highest documented incarceration rate around the world. In December of 2007, a record 7.2 million people were either spending time behind bars, or were on probation and parole. Of that total, 2.3 million were actually spending time in prison at Christmas.
While our society has evolved scientifically, economically and socially in the last twenty plus generations, our bent to sinning has continued to increase. What seems to be a time-honored tradition, we willingly choose to break the law rather than to obey it. Take five minutes and think about the last twenty-four hours of your life. Did you commit any notable crimes for which you should have been punished? Did you drive over the speed limit on the highway as you traveled to visit family for the holidays? Did you lie to a neighbor? Did you make time to come and worship the Lord or were you too busy with your holiday schedule? Are you harboring unforgiveness in your heart toward someone who has hurt you?
Pilate was trying his best to weigh the evidence in the charges railed against Jesus Christ. He did not believe this man had committed any crime. When asking his accusers for specifics, the people said if He was not a criminal, they would not have brought him for judgment. What crimes did Jesus actually commit?
A baby is born in a town with no room for Him. The mother gives birth in a dirty, stinky cave, where the only warmth is that of the animals surrounding her. Joseph delivers the boy in the dark, with only the light of a bright star to guide him. How was this child welcomed into the world? His parents had to take him and flee the country just to protect him from losing his life by an edict of Herod. What laws had this boy child broken to deserve an untimely death?
Jesus came to pardon us from selfish sin. He became the Christmas pardon for you and me. Are you imprisoned today by the sins that continually eat away your life? Are you struggling to find freedom from the chains that keep you bound? Jesus has pardoned you; He has given this gift, free to anyone who will receive Him today as their Lord and Savior. Christ bore your sins on the cross; He bled and died to set you free forever!
I pray that you will accept Christ’s Christmas pardon today. His gift of grace is the best present you will ever receive. Merry Christmas!
Grace and peace,
Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO
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