See the Person of Christ in the Picture of Christmas

Scriptures: Luke 1:10
by Jacob Abshire on December 15, 2015

“And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense” (Lk. 1:10). They came to see the picture of Christ.

It was a bloody mess. Blood on the floor. Blood on the walls. Blood on the garments. Nothing less than a picture of horror. Jews from all over the known world were coming to the temple, as was their custom, to offer animal sacrifices to God—a picture to prepare them for the Messiah’s work on the cross.

It was a picture of death. Once gathered, the sacrifices were given to the priests. The priests butchered the offerings, separating specific parts for specific purposes of worship in the temple. Parts were burned. Then poured over coals and surrendered to God in prayer. Death was the payment for sin (Rom. 6:23).

According to Luke 1:10, “the whole multitude of the people” gathered outside the temple praying “at the hour of incense” and observing this vivid picture. The crowd was large. It must have been the evening of the Sabbath. The setting was a canvas of red—a portrayal of hope on the altar of death, a climax of religious fervor and heartfelt homage. Still, nothing was more riveting this day than when the sacrifice was poured out on the altar in the Holy Place. This was when the smoke would rush out the crown of the temple to signify God’s forgiveness. But it was only a picture.

Gather Around the Picture

Although a real religious experience, it was just a picture. The slaying of innocent animals paid nothing toward their eternal salvation. The smoke identifying God’s forgiveness relieved their consciences temporarily. It was not the real thing. It was only a picture.

This bloody canvas was designed to prepare them for the real sacrifice of God’s Lamb, Jesus. But, while the Jews went through the motions, seeing the picture again and again, they lost sight of what the picture taught. They saw only the picture itself, a sketch of God’s Messiah. For when the real sacrifice came, there were no multitudes. Only a few gathered at the foot of the cross to see the sacrifice lifted up toward heaven. The Jews saw the picture, but not the person it portrayed.

Gather Around the Person

In a similar way, Christmas is a picture of the coming Sacrifice and Savior. It is a significant holiday, not because a baby was born, but because our sacrifice has come. The picture of the infant we so joyously gather around is the Sacrificial Lamb that was brought to the slaughter and brutally killed for our sin. This is the Christmas picture.

On this holiday, families everywhere will gather around the picture but only see the picture, not the person. Most will rally for the gifts of man, not of God. Many will gather and pray around the holiday, but never look to whom the holiday points. They will see the picture, but miss the person.

Christmas will serve little purpose if we fail to see the sacrifice that has come. When celebrations begin, turn your heart toward Christ and see Him. When the family gathers, think on Christ. When the gifts are exchanged, think on Christ. See the Sacrificial Lamb.

Christmas can be a joyous time to gather, even to pray, with our family. But it is only a painted canvas if the Christ is not realized. We should look to the Christ, not the picture. Will you look to the Christ this Christmas? God’s gift bleeds for you.

Download or purchase God Breaks His Silence, a study guide for Christmas.

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