Merry Christmas, everyone!
I know there's so much activity going on throughout the next week or so, but if you're reading this right now, you've taken a minute to stop and slow down - even if it's just a minute! I wanted to use this opportunity to simply remind us all why Christmas even matters. Hence, the switch from my usual, graphic-filled posts. 😊
You see, it all started one day in a little town called Nazareth. A young woman named Mary was visited by an angel who brought remarkable news.
And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. 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. (Luke 1:26-28)
Imagine the questions that must have flooded her mind! What did this angel mean and what purpose did he have? But Gabriel assured her that she had nothing to fear. She was chosen of God to bear the Savior of the world!
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. (Luke 1:30-31)
She had heard the prophecies of Messiah all her life. She knew that this would be Yeshua, God Almighty, robed in flesh. But... would it really be fulfilled through her? This baby was promised to bring salvation to the world - salvation that would reach even to you and me today. The Messiah was on His way!
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
Just as the angel promised Mary, she gave birth to a baby boy, and they called Him Jesus. Though He was the King of glory, He was not born in a palace or swaddled in the finest of linens. He was born in a stable and wrapped in simple cloth, because there was no room in all Bethlehem for God robed in flesh.
The angels were so excited about the Messiah's birth that they visited shepherds in the countryside, heralding the good news. The shepherds found the Savior in a manger, and filled with awe and worship, bowed down before Him. A bright star settled in the heavens where Mary, Joseph, and Jesus stayed, leading a group of wise men to come bearing precious gifts.
All of this left Mary in great wonder and amazement. Did Mary comprehend all that was taking place? Did any of them fully understand who they held in their arms? Did they know that He had come to earth for them?
This time of year, we often find ourselves in the same place as those shepherds and wise men - focused on the angels and the star, the stable and the manger, the baby and the gifts, all the while forgetting that Jesus had a purpose far beyond being born of a virgin. Even as the angel announced His name to Joseph and Mary, he announced His purpose. Jesus... Jehovah saves.
He himself declared that He had "come to seek and save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). Though Jesus Christ was The Almighty God in flesh, and though He knew no sin, He took on the sins of the whole world so that mankind could once again have relationship with Him. And just as the prophets foretold His miraculous birth, they wrote of His painful death on the cross.
This is truly why He came - to give His life. He endured the rejection, the shame, and the pain of Calvary, and came to be the spotless Lamb who was slain so you and I could be saved from sin and death. Yet, He didn't stay in the grave - He conquered death and rose again, promising to one day return for His people.
Who his own self bare our sins, in his own body on the tree, the we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. (I Peter 2:24)
He is not here, but is risen... (Luke 24:6)
Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 2:11)
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (I Thessalonians 4:16-17)
So as we enjoy family, friends, and lots of food, laughter, and gifts, let us not neglect to stop and remember Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, and thank Him for this great salvation and blessed hope.
Until next time,