As we come together with our families and friends at this time of the year, I thought it would be a good idea to remind ourselves of the reason for the season. And I’m not talking about getting together to eat yummy food and open presents, although those are certainly fun and good, too.
Here at Faith Church, during this time of year, specifically the days surrounding December 25, we gather together to celebrate Christmas! Yes, Christmas! Why are we celebrating? Glad you asked! We’re celebrating for two reasons.
Reason # 1 – God’s Goodness
The first is God’s goodness to each one of us in this moment. After all, it’s not because of your own strength that you stand here on this earth. Only a sovereign, Creator God keeps your heart beating and your lungs breathing! Not only that, but if you accomplished anything noteworthy this year, or experienced any blessings or walked through any trials in a manner pleasing to Jesus, then you have the opportunity today to give praise to God for that. He is the One who has given us the time, talent and finances to be able to do all things! So we first gather together to celebrate His present goodness to us.
Reason # 2 – The Birth of Jesus
The second reason that we gather together to celebrate is one that goes back quite a ways in history. This reason has been around for decades, centuries, millennia, and it is the central component to the Christmas story and the Christmas season. This is the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Immanuel, who is the personal Lord and Savior of all who call on His name. Jesus’ birth is the second, and primary, reason that we gather together to celebrate.
You see the Bible tells a story…and not just any kind of story. This is a true story–a story that recounts the work of God in our world. And for our sake, I want to take us on a brief survey from points along this story that lead us to the celebration of Jesus’ birth at Christmas.
Like any good story, it starts in the beginning…
In the beginning, God created the world and everything in it–including men and women.
However, in Genesis 3, the Bible tells us that the first man and first woman chose to do something terrible. Instead of lovingly obeying God, they chose to rebel against him by listening to God’s enemy, the devil, and doing what he said instead of God. Because of this rebellion, God, as a loving father, had to discipline them and separate them and all of mankind from him. But he didn’t stop there–he made a way for them and all of mankind to be reunited with him. In Genesis 3:13-15, God promised that he would send a descendant of the first woman to crush their enemy, the devil. This is a promise of future victory and a restored relationship with God!
Then, thousands of years later, the prophet Isaiah provided more detail about this coming Rescuer. In Isaiah 7:14 it says, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” Immanuel means “God with us.” Isaiah tells us that the one who is promised to bring victory over the enemy, the devil, and reunite God with His people will be born by a virgin woman!
In Isaiah 9:6-7, it also says, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore.” We are not only looking for one who will bring us back to God, we are also awaiting one who will reign forever over the earth in peace, justice and righteousness!
From Isaiah’s prophecy we jump forward 700 years to the events recorded in Luke 1:26-35:
Luke 1:26–35 (NASB95)
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.”
THIS IS IT! The virgin birth as predicted in Isaiah 700 years ago! This is the descendant of Eve from the Garden of Eden. This boy is Jesus, the Son of God, born of a virgin woman. He came to “take away the sins of the world.” He is the one who overcame the enemy and provided a way for us to be restored to our relationship with our Creator God. He is both the Son of God and God himself, entering into His own Creation to rescue mankind!
What an amazing truth to reflect on this Christmas season! Please join us in the celebration of our Savior’s birth!
Part II of this blog series focuses on the outcome of Jesus entering into His Creation and provides additional reasons to rejoice!