Christmas is possible with a personal relationship with Jesus
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”
He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Matthew 26:36-38
All the world is excited in anticipation of the celebration of the coming Messiah, Jesus. The world is filled with joy and wonder with the thought of Jesus coming to this world for salvation. Then how are we to prepare for this coming of Jesus? I think we must examine our personal relationship with Jesus as we celebrate this season of hope, Christmas.
Jesus came to this world to save us from our sin and death by dying on the cross. The Cross was the goal of Jesus’ coming and we read in this Bible verse that the road to the cross was not an easy one. The cross is the good news, Jesus knew that his life was building up to that moment of cross. The Good news Jesus brings to us is free, but it cost everything Jesus had, his life. How was Jesus able to make this wondrous sacrifice? I believe the strength and courage came from his personal relationship with God the Father. We see Jesus’ personal relationship with God the Father throughout his ministry but more intimately it was described in the Garden of Gethsemane. There were three areas in his life which lead Jesus to a personal relationship with God the Father.
First, Jesus created the space for the personal relationship.
Matthew 26:36 We find Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane with his disciples and what he says to his disciples is something we need to take notice. “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” I thought Jesus would tell his disciples to pray with him, but he did not. Jesus did not ask his disciples, at least not all of them, to pray for him or with him but asked them to stay away while he was praying. Why? I think Jesus was creating a space for a personal relationship. Any personal relationship requires this space creation. We create these spaces in our personal relationships and call them; anniversaries, honeymoon, dates, etc. In a personal relationship this creating a space is a necessity for healthy relationships. We should create a space for our personal relationship with Jesus by creating a space every Sunday in worship. We can also create this space every morning as we sit before the Word of God in devotional. Without this created space our personal relationship will suffer.
Secondly, a personal relationship with God is possible through an intimate relationship with other believers. In verse 37 Jesus invites three of his disciple to an inner circle. Jesus is showing his genuine emotions to them. It says, “he began to be sorrowful and troubled.” If we are striving for a personal relationship with God and living in this world, we must have good Christian fellowship (or a small group) where we can show our emotions without worry. Together we are stronger in our walk with Jesus. We must remember that Satan is like a roaring lion and the lion goes after the one who is separated from the herd. When you are suffering and troubled, share your emotions with your inner circle of friends.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 1 Peter 5:8-9
The third lesson we see comes when Jesus goes away to pray personally before God the Father. He prayed three times, wrestling with God in prayer, knowing that only God can give him the courage he needed for the cross at hand.
As we anticipate the coming Christmas let us boldly live a personal relationship with God which enables us to live a divine purpose. Jesus came to have a personal relationship with you. Merry Christmas!
Rev. David I Kim
Superintendent, Central Bay District
United Methodist Church