Sunday, 23 December 2012

Born To Give Them Second Birth

It's fun to look at pictures of babies and imagine what some of them are born to be or do.  You can never tell and are often surprised to see what those famous in the world today once looked like.  For example, below we have the babies who would go on to be a Hollywood superstar, the President of the United States of America and a England striker.  You'd never have guessed, hey?

Cruise, Obama and Rooney as Babies
Tom Cruise, Barack Obama and Wayne Rooney as babies.

You might say that they were born to fulfil their respective potentials.  Christmas is all about celebrating the birth of a baby but it's not often that it's thought what that baby was really born for, the reason that the baby Jesus arrived on earth.

The famous carol Hark the Herald Angels Sing contains these lines:
Mild He lays His glory by;
Born that man no more may die.
Born to raise the sons of earth;
Born to give them second birth.
Here, Charles Wesley puts across the very reason that baby was born: to give mankind second birth.  However, the idea of being born for a second time is strange and was so to a man later on in Jesus' life who exclaimed "Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother's womb to be born!" (John 3:4), not quite understanding the concept.

Jesus is talking here about spiritual birth, being born of 'water and the Spirit' (John 3:5).  It is the idea of finishing with our old life, of living for ourselves, and being born into a new life, living instead for God and receiving His Spirit.  This, says Jesus, is the only way to enter the Kingdom of God, to have a hope of life as it was meant to be; free from the pains and struggles of this life and free to enjoy an eternal relationship with God.

Indeed, this was the reason that that baby was born all those years ago in Bethlehem and why we celebrate that birth every year: Jesus lived and died in our place, for our sin and bad attitude to God, so that we could be brought back to God, and was raised to life again to prove this to be true.  Jesus' birth was all about our new birth.  Peter praises God for this in his first letter included in the Bible:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3)
Let's remember the reason for this birth; to die and rise again, to give us a second birth.