Crisis, noun: an unstable situation of extreme danger or difficulty; turning point; time of great stress or danger; a crucial stage or turning point in the course of something
The most recent news is filled with stories of various crises. Local news tells us of the crimes plaguing our cities. Crimes that we hear of so often that we are no longer horrified nor shocked when we hear of them again. This mental callousness, our way of coping, is indicative of the state of crisis in which we live on a daily basis. We have grown so accustomed to this wrongness that we accept it and have learned to exist with it. Do we have a choice? Is there an alternative? We are in crisis.
Regional news tells us of disasters, both natural and man-made. We heard recently of a train derailment in Quebec, Ontario, Canada, where multiple crude oil tanker cars overturned and burst into flames, totally destroying a large portion of the small town. At least 50 people were feared dead in this tragic accident. This town was faced with the loss of family, friends and loved ones. Now it must cope with the clean-up, decontamination, and rebuilding of its community both physically and emotionally. This is a great crisis.
We heard of the poisoning of the school children in India. Twenty-three children died and many were sickened after partaking of the food provided by a free school lunch program. However this food was contaminated by the pesticides that killed and sickened these children and adults, this is a great tragedy. This is a great crisis of which the magnitude only increases if this poisoning were intentional. Anyone with a portion of humanity must hurt at the thought of the deaths of these little ones and the grief striking the hearts of their parents.
On a daily basis, we hear of great and mounting tensions between nations. The possibility of war seems imminent. Some strifes are relatively new while others have continued for centuries. Hatred between and for some people groups is so intense that genocide has been attempted and extinction seems to be a very real danger for some. Whether the crises are natural such as; hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, drought, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, tornados and famine: or if they are man-made such as; war, crime, pollution, environmental abuse: the world is in crisis. We do not minimize any of these dangers, as apart from God’s protection, mercy and grace, any of us might find our end through any one of them.
History identifies pivotal events of cities, states, provinces, countries, nations, and continents. We can identify the inventions of certain things or processes as crises. Consider the wheel and the positive impact it has made in transportation by its employment in simple carts. Consider man’s control of fire and how it has expanded his habitation. Wheels have eased man’s burdens and controlled fire has illuminated, comforted and warmed him. The same wheels that have eased burdens for innocent activities have also eased the transport of evil intentions. The same controlled fire that has warmed man has burned villages and cities. The wheel and controlled fire have both been pivotal in advancement and have brought death and destruction. Consider the union of the wheel and controlled fire in the automobile and just about every land based powered form of transportation. Even the latest jet engines are based on rotation around an axis in compressor and by-pass turbine blades and controlled fire of burned jet fuel in the exhaust nozzle.
From a purely human perspective, it is debatable as to what events in history are most pivotal. From a New Testament perspective, the message is clear.
The arrival of Jesus Christ into the world was and is the pivotal event of human history. The present date was arrived at by His epochal birth and life. Even when B.C.E. [Before Common Era] is employed instead of B.C. [Before Christ] so that Christ is not acknowledged in the marking historical events in relation to other events, the date is still arrived at by His birth.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them:and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not:for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
His greatness is unchangeable, unavoidable and inescapable. History has been affected indelibly by the arrival of the man, Jesus Christ. I do not imply that He was merely a man, but in fact the archetypal man and much, much more.
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God,
The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end,
upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom,
to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice
from henceforth even for ever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
In Behold The Man, James S. Stewart said,
“If you go climbing among the mountains, you may come occasionally to a lofty pass where the water-courses change their direction. Here a tiny rivulet makes its inconspicuous way to join the rivers flowing eastward: yonder, a few yards off, another begins its long winding journey towards the sunset and the western lands. The raindrops falling on one side of the summit may be carried down to the North Sea, while those on the other merge at last in the Atlantic. You are standing at the watershed, where all the streams divide.
Incomparably the most important watershed in the long history of humanity has been the Incarnation of Christ. At this point, the streams divide. After this, the human course and direction are changed.”
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him. Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die.
In the next discussion we will take a closer look at these verses from John’s gospel.