- From the Cedar Street Times, Pacific Grove
What does God say about Jesus and Christmas?
Each year families gather to celebrate Christmas with parties, food, and gifts. Why do these families gather and what is the true meaning of Christmas? Let’s see what God has to say about it.
Jer 1:4-5, “Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” God formed us, so doesn’t it make sense that He would know who we are, His individual purpose for each of our lives and what we need? Including our need for a savior? Rom 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”
God told us, some 1,500 years before Jesus’ birth, that Jesus is His Son and that God would send Jesus to save those who put their trust in Him, Ps 2:7, 12, “I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee…Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” Then, God had Daniel give us the date of Jesus’ birth some 500 years before it happened, Dan 9:24-25, “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.” And, the wise men used this prophecy to determine the date they would look for the star, which would guide them to Jesus’ birthplace, Numb 24:17, “I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.”
God’s prophecies are available to all, however, only those among us willing to humble ourselves will be able to use them to witness their fulfillment and thus learn to believe Him and His Word, Matt 2:1, 10-11, “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem…When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.” These wise men believed in God and were rewarded for their belief. They traveled nearly 900 miles to find the truth of the Messiah’s birth. When they found Him, they humbled themselves before Him and celebrated His birth with great joy! Many who count themselves as wise have ignored the prophecies and thus have not learned to believe, sadly leaving them without the faith God offers to all, Rom 1:22-25, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.”
When Jesus was ready to begin His ministry, God made it clear to all willing to hear, Matt 3:16-17, “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
God is searching for those of us who are willing to admit we are lost, Eze 34:11, “For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out.” Some 600 years after Ezekiel’s prophecy, God sent Jesus to find us, Lk 19:10, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Picture the great rejoicing in heaven each time one of us is saved, Matt 18:11-13, “For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.” Jesus came for all of us who are willing to accept Him as our savior, especially the lost among us.
Before Jesus came, we were all dead in our sins. Sure, people sacrificed spotless lambs to atone for their sins, but that only lasted until their next sin. Those sacrifices were meant to foreshadow Jesus’ coming. Those sacrifices were meant to teach us that sin causes great pain and suffering. Most of us hide our conscious thoughts from the pain our sins cause. The pain is still there, we just want to ignore it because we want our sins more than we want to stop the pain.
Jesus came to free us from our chains of bondage and the endless cycle of our own sins. He knows we cannot free ourselves. Freedom from the chains of bondage does not mean we sin no more, it means we allow ourselves to feel remorse for those sins and admit that we have sinned. We no longer try to hide our sins; we no longer pretend we have never sinned. After admitting our sins we repent and look for ways to prevent repeating those sins.
Our attempts to project the image of a sinless life are futile. We try and hide the guilt we feel, but it only leads us to demonstrate our sinful nature in ever more observable ways. When we murderer and steal and are caught and tried for our crimes, we will have finally succeeded in proving how evil we believe we are. This demonstration of who we believe we are formed much earlier, in our thoughts; then it proceeded with small demonstrations of evil, while hiding our guilt even from ourselves. Our thoughts can grow into self-fulfilling prophecies that escalate until one day our deeds are too evil and too observable to hide any longer. Once caught and convicted, the guilt and remorse we have hidden for so long emerges in waves of emotion and relief. We no longer have to pretend. The veil has been lifted. If we reach out to God during this time, by opening the door to the possibility He exists, Jesus will enter our lives and show us His love and mercy, which He has been waiting to show us from before time. Jesus does this because of His great love for us, not because of anything we have done, however we must invite Him into our lives, for He never forces us to do anything. Love never forces, it is humble, kind, forgiving and full of mercy, Tit 3:4-6, “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;”
This is the gift Jesus brought us from heaven some two thousand years ago and the angels celebrate each time one of us opens the door and invites Jesus in, Lk 15:10, “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” This is the joy we should experience when celebrating Christmas; and it is not Christmas without Christ!
May the joy of Jesus permeate your Christmas celebrations!
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