When one preaches the law the way the Bible does (unattainably high for the sinner), it doesn’t leave one shred of hope that we’re somehow going to cut the mustard. It strips away any illusions that our obedience or lack thereof is what will make us acceptable before a holy God.
I apologize to you, all the people of the world. I apologize for my part in making Christmas necessary. I have learned that Christ is NOT the reason for the season, I am. It's true. All the sin and shame I bear for all my wrongdoings have made it a necessity for Christ to come in the form of a man, being born of a virgin.
God's grace and mercy in Jesus Christ calls all sinners to a celebration. A "those who sat in darkness have seen a great light" kind of celebration. A "come to Bethlehem and see the new-born Savior" revelry. Like two divine sheepdogs, God's grace and mercy hound every person in the world to join the festivities.
At this time of year a lot of emphasis is placed on being good. Elves on Shelves everywhere are watching our behavior and snitching to Santa, who is making up his all important list of those who have been naughty and those who have been nice. The parable above, however, sets forth something so counter to that way of thinking that we all have a very difficult time wrapping our minds around it.
Often, when we talk about the Old Testament, we talk about God's promises and work for his chosen people, Israel. We talk about God's redeeming promise to Adam and Eve. God calls Abraham out of the Haran into Canaan. God sends Moses to Pharaoh with a message of liberation.
He was a beggar on the streets. And, he was as good as dead if he didn't receive a blessing. The words, "you're cursed" haunted his mind. He was cursed and it was his own fault. He took what wasn't his to take; he stole from the dead and, in doing so, he became eerily acquainted with the dead.
In the beginning, we read about the invention of religion. It begins simply enough in Genesis 3 [6-13]: The woman saw that the tree had fruit that was good to eat, nice to look at, and desirable for making someone wise. So she took some of the fruit and ate it.