Christmas According to a Bankrupt ComposerGeorge Shamblin
Whenever someone is willing to dig deeper into the Christmas story, there are vast arrays of riches to be discovered. This is true especially as it relates to words and phrases we use all the time, though we may be uncertain of their exact meanings. Before breaking ground into “Christmas According to a Bankrupt Composer,” let me to challenge you and your family to take the matching quiz below; all the terms which are in red can be found in the story to follow:
In 1741, several Dublin charities commissioned a bankrupt composer to write a musical work for a city-wide performance. The proceeds were to benefit a worthy cause: payment for the release of captives confined to debtor’s prison.
Unreservedly committed to the cause, this musician tirelessly labored non-stop around the clock. Several observers noted how he refrained from food and water “for long periods of time,” others were said to witness him sobbing over his evolving score.
Under normal circumstances, a musical composition would take months or even years to compose. Yet this bankrupt composer’s masterpiece was completed in an unprecedented 24 days. When one of the songs is performed today, all in attendance stand as a sign of respect for the profound glory contained therein. You know the bankrupt composer’s name…George Frideric Handel. The name of his masterpiece…Messiah. It’s apex…The Hallelujah Chorus.
As tremendous as Handel’s accomplishment was, it pales in comparison the greatest accomplishment the world has ever known: not only was God born among us (Immanuel), but by His death, burial, and resurrection He secured the redemption and release of us, His unworthy captives. As articulated in Colossians 1:13-14: “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” As my pastor friend Jason Sterling summarizes the Gospel in one sentence: “Jesus lived the perfect life we couldn’t live, and died the death we deserved.”
Far from taking months or years to complete, or even 24 days for that matter like Handel, Christ’s redemptive work was “finished” in 6 hours one Friday, 30 AD.
The Christmas Story, much like a Divinely Ordained Orchestra, is truly the most moving of stories ever told, if only you would pause long enough to absorb it. Stop for a moment and consider the significance of how Christ had the entire cosmos clutched in the palm of His hand, and yet because of the great love with which He loved you, willingly bankrupted Himself by becoming Man, died for your transgressions, and raised you up with Him seating you in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:4-6).
Or do you realize the implications that this story has for you who’ve received Him? Not only have you been “saved by grace through faith,” but in the eyes of God you are now beheld as His priceless masterpiece. Yes, as hard as it is to fathom, you who were once far off have been brought so near as to become The Lord’s treasured masterpiece, or handiwork, as taken from the Greek word poiema, an artistic term from which we get “poem.” (Ephesians 2:8-10) The Father’s delight even becomes so profound that He’s known to break out in joyful song over you: “He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)
As His handiwork, as His workmanship, or stated differently as His masterpiece, it’s imperative for you to make Him and His story known at all costs. After all, it’s a very small price to pay in light of the payment He made for you.
A very Merry Christmas to you and your family! – The Shamblins