- John 12:36 (NKJV) These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them.
On one occasion Jesus became such a controversy and was so hated the people picked up stones and attempted to stone him to death (John 8:59).
On that occasion, Jesus slipped away and hid himself from them.
Run the clock and calendar forward to the time of today’s verse. Now a threshold had been crossed; a tipping point had been reached; now Jesus was not just slipping to survive, now he was hidden from them.
There comes a time that God’s spirit stops striving with a person and a nation.
Christmas has highlighted this for me this year.
This weekend is the weekend my church conducts our annual “Christmas production.” We go all out for this; it is one of the major events of our year. Each year we have different variations on the Christmas theme, but there is one nonnegotiable—the birth of Christ is always depicted—it’s called the nativity scene.
It occurred to me this year just how important it is that we do this. “Christmas” as a holiday, as a season of shopping and gift-giving and indulging in sweets and such is welcome in our country. But with each passing year, Jesus has been pushed more and more from the center of this season and more and more to the edges.
Now you will not find a nativity scene on any civil property—Jesus is not welcome there. Jesus’ birth has been pushed out of our schools; children will not—cannot be taught the real meaning of Christmas there. And you will be hard-pressed to find any mention of Jesus in any place of business unless they are an overtly Christian business or the owners are overtly Christian.
I know, I sound so ole-fashioned. But bear with me—where does it stop? Is our culture going the same way the culture of Jesus’ day went? There was a time that Jesus was celebrated, honored, and followed. Then there came a time that Jesus was only tolerated; then He was resisted. Eventually, there came a time they picked up stones and began to drive Him out of their lives and public places until the day came they cried crucify Him!
The result? Jesus was hidden from them.
Are we nearing that point in our culture? The church is the only public place where the nativity scene is welcome and Jesus is celebrated. How long will that last? I don’t know. But this I do know, increasingly Jesus is being hidden. Where he is not welcome he does not go. Where he is not celebrated he slips away.
Will there come a time in the not so distant future that our nation, like someone brain dead but still on life-support, will be celebrating Christmas but have no idea that it all started to celebrate the birth of the Son of God?
I’m afraid that is where we are heading. I suspect that that is why Jesus is described as being like “a thief in the night” when He comes back the second time to rapture his church away—He will be hidden from the general population; they will be clueless.
So what is the ONE THING for today? Be ever so thankful that your church is celebrating Christmas this year. If it is only a small affair or, like my church, a major event—no matter, just the fact Jesus is remembered is important.
Thank your pastor, thank the ones that participated. Support them, encourage them, and underwrite them. They are now the few voices left crying in the wilderness the good news of Immanuel (God with us).
When they’re gone, there will be no one else.