Good morning!! Merry Christmas! I’m so glad you came out this Christmas Day to celebrate the birth of Jesus! How many have already opened presents?
When I was a kid, the anticipation of opening the gifts was more than I could handle! I was always shaking the wrapped packages and peeking in the folded corners and trying to figure out what was in it. How about you?! C’mon! I know you did the same thing!
Well, today is Christmas Day and I want to focus on the greatest gift ever, Jesus Christ! We have two accounts of Jesus’ birth, one found in Matthew and the other in Luke.
Matthew 1:18-24 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
There were three steps in the Jewish marriage. First, the two families agreed to the union. Second, a public announcement was made. At this point, the couple was “pledged” to one another. This pledge was binding, but the pledge could be broken, but only through death or divorce. (Sexual relations were not permitted until they were married). Third, the couple was married and they began to live together as husband and wife. This was the order and tradition of marriage in that culture.
When Mary became pregnant, this created problems. She appeared to have been unfaithful to Joseph as they not had sexual relations. This put Joseph in a difficult situation. He loved Mary, but he also wanted to be obedient to God. Joseph wanted to do right thing (and the kind thing) and considered divorcing her quietly. But, something happened that changed his plans.
Matthew 1:20-21 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name JESUS, because he will save people from their sins”.
An angel came to Joseph in a dream, and told him that Mary had not been unfaithful, but that this baby was conceived by the Holy Spirit and that he was to take her as his wife. Then God told Joseph to name this little baby “Jesus.”
Names in the Bible are significant. The name Jesus has a very special meaning. The name “Jesus” means, “The Lord saves” or “Savior of the world.” Jesus was born to SAVE PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS! This is what we celebrate! The sins of mankind can be forgiven and washed away and a real relationship with God can become a reality!
Matthew 1:22-23 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”, which means, “God with us”.
We see another name that Jesus would be called, Immanuel. Immanuel means, “God with us.” In the name of Jesus, we see His purpose clearly defined: To save us from our sins, and to be with us! Could there ever be a greater gift than that?!
Matthew 1:24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
In our world today, we celebrate Christmas because our sins can be forgiven and God can be with us!
But, think of what this meant at the time Jesus was born. This was a new kind of relationship that had not been experienced since Adam and Eve walked and talked with God in the Garden. When Adam and Eve sinned, a wall was erected between man and God.
With the birth of Jesus, the power of sin to separate man from God was destroyed, and man could once again have a personal, intimate relationship with God because God was in them. This is why we celebrate the birth of the Son of God, Jesus!
I want to talk about Joseph for a moment. Joseph is often hidden in the shadows of the spotlight, but he was a real man of God, and we need to appreciate him. He was called a “righteous man.” He was in the line of Christ, just as Mary was. They were both descendants of King David.
Joseph was a man of character. Think about it. God chose him to be the man who would raise His Son here on earth. That was a high honor. Joseph had to have genuine character and a spiritual backbone and strength to endure the questions and accusations that came because Mary was pregnant.
But, Joseph remained strong and faithful to God and was obedient. Remember, he was also the father of James, the leader of the church in Jerusalem and the author of the book of James, and the father of Jude, the author of the book of Jude.
Joseph honored what the angel told him to do and he obeyed God’s command. He married Mary, and named the baby JESUS, as he was instructed to do.
We learn more of why we celebrate the birth of Jesus in the book of Luke.
From Matthew’s account, we learned that Jesus “came to save the world from their sins”, and he came to “be with us”.
In Luke, we learn that the birth of Jesus equalized the value and importance of people. His birth was for everyone. All people were equal; rich and poor; Jews and Gentiles, men and women, all races, all mixes of race, etc. This was unheard of in the culture of that day.
Luke 2:8-10 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord shone around them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But, the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for ALL of the people”.
The birth of Jesus was meant to be for ALL people. The POOR shepherds, who were nearby, were made aware of the birth of Jesus by an angel. In the account found in Matthew, the Magi or Wise Men, who were RICH kings, lived far away, and were made aware of Jesus’ birth by and angel as well.
So, from the beginning, the message and purpose of the birth of Jesus was for ALL people, no matter what your economic status was or your race, or your gender… the “good news was for ALL the people!”
This was the message to the shepherds…
Luke 2:11-12 Today in the town of David a SAVIOR has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: “You will find a baby wrapped in clothes and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth PEACE (and GOOD WILL) to men ON WHOM HIS FAVOR RESTS.”
The angels celebrated and praised God for the PEACE and GOOD WILL that had come into the world in this little baby.
PEACE means, “peace, prosperity, quietness, rest, set at one again.”
GOOD WILL means, “Satisfaction, delight, kindness, good pleasure, purpose.”
The angels were celebrating because with the birth of Jesus, man’s relationship with God COULD BE RESTORED. The acts of disobedience by Adam and Eve not only broke the close and personal relationship they had with God the Father, but their sin robbed them of PEACE and GOOD WILL.
Because of sin, man became a mess inside. He had no lasting peace, no quietness, no rest, because he was separated from God. He was spiritually bankrupt. His life was meaningless and without satisfaction. There was nothing to be delighted about.
But now, man has something to celebrate about! Praise God for Jesus! Because of our restored relationship with God through Jesus, we can have PEACE WITH GOD! We can be blessed with SPIRITUAL PROSPERTY IN A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD!
We can GROW CLOSE TO GOD!
We can have QUIETNESS AND CALMNESS IN OUR SPIRIT!
We can have REST FOR OUR BODIES NOW!
We can BE ONE AGAIN WITH GOD! (This is what the word, “peace” means)
We can also have SATISFACTION AND DELIGHT!
We can experience expressions of GOD’S KINDNESS AND GOOD PLEASURE!
AND WE HAVE A PURPOSE FOR OUR LIVES! (This is what the words “good will” mean)
So, today we celebrate all these things and more!
We celebrate because God loves us!
We celebrate because God’s Son was born!
We celebrate because God made it possible for our sins to be washed away by sending Jesus!
We celebrate because our relationship with God can be restored!
We celebrate because we know God and God knows us!
We celebrate because he now lives in us!
We celebrate because God walks with us and talks with us all the time!
We celebrate because we can now have a purpose in life!
We celebrate a new life that we can enjoy and delight in, in spite of life’s challenges!
We celebrate because we can have spiritual peace with God and blessing beyond measure!
We celebrate because “God is with us!”
This is why we celebrate the birth of Jesus!
We celebrate the greatest expression of the love of God ever in the birth of Jesus! This is God’s gift to us.
What are you celebrating this Christmas season?
Is it all about the celebration? The trees and ornaments and presents and great meals and wonderful fellowship with friends and family? Or, is it about celebrating this little baby named “Jesus”?
Jesus said later in His life that without a shepherd, people’s lives would be a mess, and without hope, because they do not know him. Do you know Jesus? Do you REALLY know him today? Have you ever taken the step of faith and received Jesus as your Savior?
God wants to give all people this wonderful gift of Jesus. God wants all people to be blessed with a very special relationship with His Son!
How does this happen? JUST ASK!
Luke 11:13 Jesus said, “If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to THOSE WHO ASK HIM!”
Christmas is more than just a celebration. It’s about being rescued from the sin that separates you from God. It’s about God being with you, now and forever.
All you have to do is ask, and reach out and receive this wonderful gift!
John 1:12 Yet, to as many as RECEIVED him, to those who BELIEVED IN HIS NAME, he gave the right to become children of God.
Do you want to become a child of God and receive Jesus and all the blessing he has for you?
Then simply ask God to come into your heart. Pray this simple prayer to God and see what happens.
“Dear Father, thank you for sending this little baby into the world.
I know that He is your Son. I know that you want to save me from my sins.
Please forgive me of my sins. Make me clean inside.
I truly believe in Jesus, and I receive him right now into my heart!
Take my life, and be my Lord!
Thank you for loving me and saving me from my sins and being with me!
Thank you for the greatest Christmas gift ever!
If God spoke to you today and you responded by accepting Jesus as your Savior from sin, you have received the greatest Christmas gift ever!
God bless you on this Christmas Day, 2016!