Shortly after Rick returned from Vietnam, he and I, with his parents, went to a Christmas cinematic presentation of “Ben Hur” in San Francisco. The theater was magnificent, red velvet seats, an enormous screen, all the gilt and glamor of what movie theaters used to be. It was the first time Rick held my hand. “Ben Hur” became indelibly fixed in my mind as something special.
Last night, Rick and I watched the movie and enjoyed it as much as we did forty-four years ago. Judah Ben Hur’s story is interwoven with Jesus’ throughout the entire movie, but it isn’t until the end Judah Ben Hur encounters the Christ. I still get choked up and teary when Jesus goes to the cross. I still get goose bumps when the storm comes, ripping trees up by the roots, wind howling and Miriam knows Jesus has died – and within moments, Miriam and Tirzah are miraculously healed of leprosy. I still cry at the end when the blood of Jesus runs down the cross, mingles with the rain and runs like a river into the land, and when Judah Ben-Hur returns home having witnessed the way Jesus died. “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” And Judah repents of his desire for revenge against Rome and allows God to remove the sword from his hand. I still marvel at Jesus’ paying the price for my salvation.
Each day brings us closer to the celebration of Jesus’ birth. It is a time of celebration, a time of wonder and reflection. God in Christ came to earth, born of a virgin who conceived by the Holy Spirit. Only Jesus could live a sin-free life. Only He could be the perfect sacrifice for all our sins – past, present, future. By His blood we are saved. He was born to die so we might live through faith in Him.
A movie is fine, but there is far more depth in a book. I’m not talking about Lew Wallace’s masterpiece. This season, I hope you’ll read the real story of Christmas in THE Book – the Bible. The story of Jesus’ birth is in Luke 1-2. After that, read more about who Jesus is in Colossians 1:15-23. Consider reading His life story beginning in Genesis when He walked in the Garden with Adam and Eve. He was. He is. He always will be.
God’s unfailing love has always been available for the asking. Have you done so?