SEPT / OCT 2011: BY ELIZA GABE
Today, I’m afraid this is more than just an invitation to the past. I’m going to break the rules and invite you to the future. Can I do that?
I hope so!
Dr. Lockridge once stated in a sermon that a certain man was the loftiest in literature. Of all the ideas and men in literature, who would be so? There are several “lofty” literary men. From Sherlock Holmes to Superman to Harry Potter to Mr. Darcy, they and many others have become a lasting part of our society for their charm, uniqueness, and attraction. When faced with these literary men, it really is a matter of opinion on who is the best. You can argue all you like with your friends as to whether Mr. Knightly is better than Mr. Darcy or Edward is preferable to Jacob. However, I propose to you that I do know who the greatest literary man is, and not because I’m smart or anything particularly special on my own.
The man is there at the beginning of the book but you don’t really get to know who he is until much later. In fact, he has to take on a physical form in order to be the man we all know. At the beginning of his story, which takes place more than two thousand years ago, a young virgin woman named Mary is betrothed to a man named Joseph. Betrothal in Jewish culture was legally binding and considered “marriage” in many regards, but without any physical contact. But before they were united in an official marriage ceremony, an angel appeared to Mary and told her that she would bear the son of God and name him Immanuel, which means “God is with us.” She in faith accepted this task. Joseph, a simple carpenter, knowing she would be shunned for being pregnant (and knowing he had not touched her), was going to divorce her quietly. He did not want her to be shamed. In those days, that was all he could really do for her—or he could say another man was the father and she might be stoned to death. However, he had a dream and in it, an angel told him the name of the baby, Immanuel. Joseph then knew all would be well.
After some months, circumstances became even more difficult for Mary and Joseph. The Emperor was in search of a certain man, a man who was prophesied to lead the Israelites and be their King. The Emperor feared this, so a nation-wide census took place. Everyone had to return to the town of their birth. Joseph and his wife traveled to Bethlehem but when they arrived, there was no room in the inns. They were led to a stable, and there Jesus was born. And yes, he was to be the King—a king born in a stable, born of a virgin, and not destined just to lead the Israelites, but all who follow Him.
Why is this man, born in a stable, the greatest literary man of all time? Is it because He is the Son of God? Because He did miracles and healed the sick? Or is the greatest part of the story that He is real and He died for you?
The greatest literary man was a real human being and He is still alive. He is sitting on the throne beside God, His Father. He is the King of a great Kingdom, people of all races and eras, all ages and backgrounds, and all nations and all languages. When you read His book you are reading history, not a story. He is the only person who can love you unconditionally, since He will never forget about or disappoint you. When you read about Him, you are reading about someone you can know, who will be your friend for life, and knew you even before you read about Him! He loves you more than you could ever imagine, and He took our punishment on the cross. When another real, important literary man (Adam, the first human) sinned, humanity was forever separated from God. But Jesus closed the gap by dying on the cross.
The reason I said I wanted to invite you to the future is because I want you to know that if you follow Jesus, you will have eternal life. When Jesus returns to Earth and creates a New Heaven and a New Earth, there will be an eternity of life existing the way God wanted it to be, with no sin whatsoever, and Jesus will be our King. I hope to see you there someday. We’ll have an eternity together, you and I, worshiping God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Three in One. I hope that if you have only read about this literary man as a character, or have never read about Him at all, you will do so knowing that He loves you and will accept you into his Kingdom if you understand that without Him you are separated from God. When you ask Him to forgive you, He already has for he paid for your sins already! Our merciful God has provided a way for us spend an eternity with Him, and others of the Kingdom, without sin.
Will you come? ■