Christmas unfolds across the years for each of us in multi-dimensional ways. From the time we are wide-eyed children until we are much older, wise-eyed adults, the wonders of God touching earth with the gift of His Son opens for each of us like a pop-up book with surprises on every page.
It was not too many years ago that a key verse in Romans surprised me. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” It’s a familiar verse that churchgoers hear often. But, in my church experience the emphasis had always been placed on the “for all have sinned” part, so much so that the rest of the verse seemed unimportant.
I was part of an evangelism ministry in seminary where we memorized lots of scripture and illustrations and then went out in teams to win souls for Christ. All in all, it was a good ministry, but I remember sharing Romans 3:23 with people for the sole purpose of making sure they knew they were sinful. But, there is so much unspoken truth hidden in this verse that we failed to understand.
What does it mean that we “fall short of the glory of God”? I believe this verse is talking about God’s glory as His fullness, His goodness, His holiness, His entire beautiful presence. If we fell short of the glory because of our sin, then this verse is also pointing like a neon sign to the compelling truth that we were intended to live in glory. We were made for glory. We were made to live in His fullness, goodness, holiness and beautiful presence. And, this is the wonder of Christmas. Christ came to restore us to glory.
Each of the Gospels portrays the Christmas story in a different light, and the book of John seems to say the least. But John was captivated by glory and captures the essence of the mission of his Messiah friend with this one verse, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”(Jn. 1:14)
John could have said a lot of things about Jesus. But, John chose the word that represented how he had seen and come to know his beloved Jesus. Glory. “We have seen his glory”.
John knew and experienced something that drew him into relationship. The glory of Jesus mirrored the glory of Heaven. John understood the glory of the Father because he had seen the glory of the Son, and He was “full of grace and truth”.
We’ve known and been taught since childhood that Jesus came to pay for our sin. This is true. But, this is only part of the story. He came to restore us to the Father. He came to restore us to glory.
My prayer for you and your family this Christmas season is that like John, you would experience the wonder and glory of Jesus.
For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. Habakkuk 1:9