Wednesday, December 2, 2015
Download MP3 (right click to save)
I always look forward to it as one of the season's great Christmas moments – the lighting of that towering Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. And it's happening tonight.
I remember last year. It was just a tad more exciting, for me anyway, because I had sort of a second-hand personal connection. The tree came from the farm owned by our good friends' daughter and son-in-law. (Did you get that?) They were chauffeured to ringside (actually rink-side) seats for the big show. So, not only did I get to watch the tree and the performers. Hey, I had like friends on the front row!
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A Rockefeller Center Christmas – Ringside Seats at the Tree."
Apparently, the NBC "tree scouts" look for evergreen candidates year-round. And one of them spotted this one, driving down Interstate 80 in Pennsylvania. It was readily visible from the highway and he liked what he saw.
In the months leading up to the tree being cut down, the "treeologists" (I don't know if that's a word. But it is now). Treeologists would come with a large tractor trailer full of nutrients for Mr. Spruce. They wanted to be sure he was in good health for his moment of glory!
Rachel, our friends' daughter, describes herself as a "big Christmas elf." She said the giant tree was the only thing at her home she didn't decorate for Christmas. (She even decorated her husband I think.) And now it was going to be decorated big time for all the world to see! You could say she was slightly excited.
I suppose our friends have viewed the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree as we always have; a nice Christmas event. But not last year. No, it went from being just an event to an unforgettable personal experience!
And thinking about that just rang a bell suddenly in my heart, because the whole Christmas thing can be much the same; a warm, cuddly event, inspired by the familiar story of that baby born in the Bethlehem manger. But it's a lot more than that for me. The event became a life-changing personal experience. When I realized the ultimate meaning of the events that night in Bethlehem, I saw that it was all about the tree.
In a sense, the shadow of that tree looms over the starlight in the manger. This child is here on a mission – a rescue mission. And that mission will take Him, 33 years later, to the tree. A Roman cross on a skull-shaped hill.
In our Word for today from the Word of God we learn in 1 Peter 2:24, "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree." Christmas was for a cross; the place where the baby of Bethlehem would become the Savior of the world by taking on Himself the death penalty for human sin. "He bore...on the tree" every hurting thing, every dirty thing, every selfish thing, every angry thing, every wrong thing of every person who ever lived.
For a time, the horrific death of Jesus Christ on a cross was just an event to me. Remembered on Good Friday. A belief to be believed. A religious symbol. But one day it became so much more. It went from an event to the most profound personal experience of my life. When it hit me, "What's happening on that cross is...well, for me. For the sinning I've done. For the punishment I deserve."
And that's the day I was given a ringside seat at the tree, when my heart melted at the love this Jesus has for me – enough to die for me. I enthroned Him that day, not as just the Savior, but as my Savior. And that changed everything. As it has, and as it will, for anyone who makes what happened on that tree "for me."
I wonder if you've ever done that? Have you ever taken this man who loved you enough to die for you, who is your only hope of heaven. He's the only one who can forgive the sin that will keep anybody out of heaven. Have you ever said, "Jesus, I want to make what You did on that cross personal for me, and take the event and make it my personal experience"? Would you tell Him today, "Jesus, I'm Yours."
We can give you more information about this if you'd just go to our website ANewStory.com. Or if you want to talk with someone, text us at 442-244-WORD.
Christmas begins at a stable. Life begins at the tree.