Today we have many concerns, and tomorrow is uncertain. We worry about a virus, wars, elections, and many things that can affect life for years to come. Prophecy seems to be running on fast-forward, but no matter what happens tomorrow, an event that happened many centuries ago should bring us peace.
I’m talking about the birth of Jesus Christ. That event changed the course of history, yet many who claim to be Christians have never read the account of His birth from Scripture. When Christmas comes around, we make sure our children believe there’s a guy up in the North Pole who has a workforce of elves making toys, and we see his supposed picture everywhere. Is that what Christmas is really about?
You and I both know that only Jesus Christ is the true meaning of Christmas… God’s gift to us. Let’s take time right now and turn our attention to God. There’s a verse that I quote many times, and it’s probably the best-known verse in Scripture.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Think about that verse, and then think of the way in which God’s Son entered His creation. He was born humbly in a manger. That’s the truth we need to instill in the hearts of our children.
The Gospel of Matthew gives Jesus’ genealogy through His stepfather, Joseph, who was a direct descendent of King David through the royal line of his son Solomon. The Gospel of Luke gives the genealogy of Jesus through His mother Mary, who was also a descendent of King David, but through a different son, Nathan. The Gospel of John also contains the genealogy of Jesus, God incarnate.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:1-5).
This passage informs us that Jesus existed in the beginning and created everything. Parents, be sure you teach this truth to your children. Evolution is as fictional as Santa Claus, and you’re responsible for teaching your children truth.
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
We know that Jesus was born in a manger, but His beginning was long before that event. Actually, He had no beginning but was the beginning of all things.
Instead of reading some fictional story to your children about a jolly fat man coming down the chimney and leaving gifts, read the truth of the birth of God in the flesh. The Gospel of Luke tells us about the virgin birth. Mary was young, but had been betrothed to a man named Joseph; they would not come together as man and wife until after they had been married. In those days, if a woman became pregnant prior to marriage, she could be stoned. God is serious about marriage and families. Her life would soon take a miraculous twist. Her cousin Elizabeth already had a miracle of her own. She was past child- bearing age, but after her husband encountered the angel Gabriel, Elizabeth became pregnant. This child would be known as John the Baptist and fulfilled a prophecy in Isaiah.
“The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3).
The miracle that Mary experienced was even more spectacular.
“And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be” (Luke 1:28-29).
It was Gabriel’s words that troubled Mary. The Greek word is diatarasso, which means “to agitate greatly, trouble greatly.” This is the only time this word is used in Scripture. Mary wasn’t terrified of Gabriel, but troubled by his words.
“And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:30-33).
In 2 Samuel 7:12 et seq, God promised David that his kingdom would be eternal, and Jesus is the fulfillment of that promise.
“Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:34-35).
Mary was obedient to God and only wanted to know how this miracle was to be accomplished. If she had any worries over the result of her obedience to God, she didn’t express her doubts. Would Joseph want to marry her? If he didn’t, how could she raise the child alone? It was the husband’s responsibility to provide for the family, and a woman had no way of earning a living. In spite of all the things that could go wrong, Mary trusted God to provide for her.
Whenever we choose to obey God, we run the risk of ridicule from family and friends, but we can learn from Mary. If we’re obedient to God, we can trust Him.
“And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:36-37). Be sure your children understand this. God is full of miracles, and nothing is impossible for Him.
“And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her” (Luke 1:38).
Mary seems like a very sweet person, and her obedience to God is an example to all of us.
The Gospel of Matthew tells us how Joseph reacted to this situation. He had no idea of the circumstances of the pregnancy and could only assume Mary had been unfaithful to him.
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily” (Matthew 1:18-19).
Joseph didn’t want her stoned, but he couldn’t marry her if she was carrying another man’s child. God knew Joseph was considering releasing Mary from their betrothal, and He put Joseph’s mind at ease.
“But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matthew 1:20-23).
The name “Jesus” means Jehovah is salvation, and “Emmanuel” means God with us. Jesus, God incarnate, is our only means of salvation and is with us always.
“Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: and knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS” (Matthew 1:24-25).
Joseph was a God-fearing man who was also obedient. He and Mary were the perfect couple to raise God’s only begotten Son.
There was still more prophecy to be fulfilled. The Messiah had to be born in Bethlehem.
“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child” (Luke 2:1-5).
This fulfilled Micah 5:2. That journey must have been difficult for Mary, and Joseph must have been very concerned for her and the Baby. Plays and movies usually show them getting to town just as she was about to deliver; Joseph desperately looks for lodging but is forced to take her to a stable. That’s not exactly what Scripture describes. There were many people in Bethlehem for the taxing, so chances of getting a room wasn’t good. Also, if there had been family there, they surely wouldn’t be pleased to take in Mary who wasn’t married, but “great with child.” So, they lodged in a stable. While they were there, Jesus was born.
“And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:6-7).
I’m sure Mary would have rather given birth to the Son of God in a better place, but if God had wanted that to happen, He would have made a way. As it was, the humble birth of God’s Son is an example of His life. He didn’t come to us in order to be the King of kings; that’s still in the future, but He did come to teach us humility, love, and to serve others. It also allowed the lowliest of people to be the first to worship Him.
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid” (Luke 2:8-9).
The shepherds had a very different reaction to seeing an angel than Mary had. They were truly frightened.
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:10-14).
What a sight to see and a sound to hear! The shepherds went immediately and found Jesus, just as the angel said. Then, they shared the Good News.
“And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds” (Luke 2:18).
Shouldn’t we tell everyone the Good News that Jesus Christ was born? Shouldn’t we celebrate Jesus instead of Santa Claus?
Jesus’ birth meant that God had come in the flesh to bridge the chasm of sin that separates humanity from Him. Today and every day, celebrate Jesus… and share the Good News.
God bless you all,
Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at https://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God-breathed.
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