Christmas 2014

This Christmas I wanted to reflect on what this holiday means to me. It’s easy to get caught up in all the festivities, eating, spending time with family, and gifts and such. But it’s refreshing to remember the birth of Christ, and just how significant an event this was. It was one of those earth-shattering events that changed the course of history, and set in motion a plan for mankind to receive an eternal gift- the gift of salvation for our sin.

This event didn’t simply begin some 2,000 years ago on that first Christmas eve when Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem. No, history began to unravel thousands of years earlier when Adam, the first man, sinned and brought death into the world. Jesus’ genealogy can be traced all the way back to the first man, Adam (Luke 3:23-38), and when Adam ate from the tree that God commanded him not to eat from, he received the judgment of death that was promised if he were to disobey (Genesis 2:16-17). That was bad news for all mankind. Adam was our representative, and even though Eve was the one deceived by the serpent, it was Adam’s sin that gave us a world filled with death, disease and suffering. But all hope wasn’t lost. God was prepared for that very moment and, while passing judgment, he provided hope for the world when he said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel (Genesis 3:15).” The fact that this prophecy mentions the offspring of a woman is significant because it testifies to a virgin birth. In the New King James translation it refers to the “seed” of a woman, and only Jesus, born of a virgin, could be referred to in this way. All other humans are born from the seed of a man.

And so the prophecy that would be fulfilled occurred with the birth of Christ, and his life would culminate in the defeat of Satan on the Cross. Satan would strike his heal, but Christ would crush Satan’s head with his victory over sin and death.

There are many other prophecies concerning Jesus, including what was said by Isaiah: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). This is another passage referring to the virgin birth, and today we remember and celebrate this fulfillment on Christmas day.

Prophecies concerning the birth of Christ were written by a number of different prophets, including Moses, Micah, Hosea, and Jeremiah. We learn from these writers that the Messiah will be a descendant of Abraham, from the line of Isaac and Jacob, the tribe of Judah, the family of Jesse, and the house of King David. So it’s significant that Jesus was able to trace his lineage to each of these ancestors, and he did so in Matthew 1:2-16 and Luke 3:23-38.

In Genesis 12:1-3 we read that the coming Messiah will be a descendant of Abraham: “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

Isaac was named in the Messianic line in Genesis 17:19: “Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him.” And Jacob was named in Numbers 24:17: “a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the forehead of Moab and break down all the sons of Sheth.”

God narrows the Messiah down to the family of Jesse in Isaiah 11:1-5: “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.  The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him-the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—  and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.”

Finally the Messiah is to come from the house of David. In Jeremiah 23:5 it is written “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.”

We learn from Micah 5:2 that the Messiah will be born in the town of Bethlehem and from the tribe of Judah: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”

It’s important to note that these prophecies were made about 400 years before Jesus was born, so anyone claiming to be the Messiah would have to establish their lineage in order to have any legitimacy. Secondly, about forty men have claimed to be the Messiah, but only Jesus could appeal to the fulfillment of prophecy as evidence.

Therefore, it’s no wonder that the birth of Jesus was a very significant event- one that even divides history before and after. And I haven’t even delved into the many Messianic prophecies he would go on to fulfill during the rest of his life on earth. So even though Christmas has been secularized in many ways and banned from some schools and public places, the real meaning hasn’t been forgotten. In fact I still love listening to good Christmas music that celebrates our dear Savior’s birth, such as O Holy Night, and Silent Night. It was on that significant night that Jesus brought true hope into the world, and that is worth rejoicing and celebrating.

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