December 17, 2015
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory was of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:14. Once again it’s Christmas. Long ago December 25th was set aside to remember that Christ was born, and there has always been controversy surrounding it. No, it is not the very day He was born, and yes it is the day that a pagan holiday took place. The truth is that we don’t really know the day that Jesus was born, but we do know the importance of the fact that He was born. Every year the idea behind remembering and celebrating our Savior’s birth becomes a little more obscure in this secular world, but for those of us who follow Him, this is a very special time of year. I’m not talking about Christmas trees and mistletoe or Santa Claus and reindeer or any of the pagan hoopla. I’m talking about the birth of our King. Our God who created the universe entered His creation as a baby – the baby Jesus – and grew into manhood all so He could die a horrible death in order that we, His creation, would be spared an eternity in Hell. That’s worth taking time to remember.
Sadly, there is much controversy surrounding this day. December 25th was chosen because a pagan celebration already took place on that day and it was convenient to use the same day for both celebrations. I don’t know anybody who goes around wishing others a “merry pagan ritual day”. I’m not even sure anybody celebrates that pagan festival anymore, but celebrating Christ’s birth endures to this day. There are some people who make a solid case that Jesus was born in September, while others can support a day in April. The truth is, it is much more troubling that we celebrate His resurrection on the pagan fertility day Easter. We know when Christ was crucified and it was on the God ordained Passover. For the moment let’s ignore all the debate about when Jesus was born; let’s rejoice in knowing that He was born and December 25th has become a tradition for Christians to gather together and focus on their Messiah – not just His birth, but also who He is and what He did. As you sing “Joy To The World” and “Silent Night”, allow yourself to listen to the words and marvel that God humbled Himself and became human in order to redeem mankind. By the way, you can sing those songs any day of the year. Christ was born and that is worth celebrating every day.
Whatever day He was born, His birth certainly changed many lives. Joseph is often an overlooked person in the story. He was a man chosen by God to provide for and protect the infant King of kings. He and Mary weren’t married but were promised to each other when suddenly she was going to have a baby. Joseph must have been heart-sick. How could he marry a woman who was pregnant out of wedlock? He would have been within his rights to have her stoned, but could he actually do that? God knew that he had misgivings and sent an angel to reassure Joseph.”But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.” Matthew 1:20. Joseph must have had some reservations about being the earthly father to the Messiah, but he acted upon this revelation immediately. “Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: and knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.” Matthew 1:24-25. Joseph didn’t waste time thinking about whether the dream was real or if it was just his imagination, but he immediately obeyed. God needs more men like Joseph who know God’s truth and want to do what is right in God’s eyes, but who also recognize when they receive directions from God. Men who do the right thing and let God direct their way.
Mary also had an encounter with the angel. He told her that she had found favor with God and that she would have a son. “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” Luke 1:31-33. Did Mary argue? No, but she was a bit confused. She was a virgin and not married. She wasn’t sure how she could become pregnant. Remember Abraham and Sarah? They were very old when God told Abraham he would father a son with Sarah. Instead of asking His plan and waiting on the Lord, Abraham and Sarah “helped” God by using Hagar to bear Abraham’s son. The whole thing just didn’t work out well and they should have trusted God. On the other hand, Mary simply asked “how”. “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35.Mary had no idea that after giving birth to the Saviour of the world she would one day stand at the foot of the cross where He was crucified. She was just willing to do what God asked of her. We need more women like Mary who don’t try to “help” God accomplish His plan by using human thinking. Mary was only human, but when God asked her to accomplish a miracle she simply wanted to know how.
The first people to receive the announcement that the Saviour was born where shepherds. They saw a marvelous sight! First there was one angel. “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12. Did you catch that? The joy is for all people. That means the joy was for Joseph and Mary, the shepherds, all of the disciples, as well as for you and me. “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:13-14. You can feel their joy! The angels just had to praise God. They were filled with joy, but have you ever asked yourself why? It was one of their own who had rebelled against God and took many angels with him in his rebellion. He lied to Eve who in turn convinced Adam to taste the Forbidden Fruit and thus they were separated from God. The angels were full of joy because the Child in the manger was the only one who could redeem man from Adam’s sin. Jesus didn’t come to redeem angels; He only came to redeem mankind. That tiny baby boy who brought forth such joyous praises from the Heavenly host was God incarnate. That little baby boy, surrounded by shepherds who had come in from the fields to view and be a part of the miracle that night, was the full representation of God Almighty. “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” Colossians 2:9. Did they recognize God lying in that manger? The angels said they would find Christ the Lord wrapped in swaddling clothes so they knew who they were looking for. We need more men like those shepherds. They heard that the Savior had been born, and knew they had to find Him.
The manger scene is indeed a beautiful remembrance of our Savior’s birth. Each person did what God asked of them and met the Saviour. The Christmas season brings numerous messages of love and compassion for all of us. Giving is an important part of Christmas. Mary gave birth to a child, but God the Father gave His son. “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, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6. The reason for Christmas is to remember that God, displaying His grace and mercy toward His creation in an act of unselfish love, humbly entered His creation as a baby. The little baby who had been placed in the manger grew into a man and willingly did His Father’s will. He taught the masses the way of the Kingdom of God, He walked on water, healed the sick, and eased the fears of His disciples as He calmed the seas and dispelled every attempt by Satan to destroy Him. He gave His life so we can live eternally with Him. Why shouldn’t we stop and remember His birth? It wasn’t in December, but we need to remember.
The traditions that most people practice this time of year have very little to do with the birth of Jesus. We buy gifts, plan trips to be with family, indulge in festive dinners, and many more things that preoccupy our time. Do Christians really keep the birth of Jesus first on their mind at Christmas? Probably not like we should. How many people, Christian or secular, remember the pagan overtones of the season? Very few. Most of what is done on Christmas is just tradition and nothing else. Family and friends get together and make happy memories. We take time to send greetings to people we care about who live many miles away. Many hearts are softened and people give generously to charity. These are things we should do in April, September, December, and throughout the year. We need to learn the lessons that Joseph, Mary, and the Shepherds have to teach us. We need to be willing to obey God’s urgings, even when we don’t understand His ways. We need to always look for Him, even in the lowliest of circumstances. From the angels we learn to sing with joy because of His birth, His life, His death, and His resurrection.
Indeed, this is a wonderful time of year when we enjoy the sights and sounds which envelop our senses. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1. Celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ…the Word who became flesh. While we remember Jesus’ birth let’s not forget the reason He came – to set men free. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” John 8:36. I love you Lord Jesus. You are my God, my Savior, my King, my Brother, and my Friend.
God bless you all,
Ron & Nathele Graham
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All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.
This commentary was started by Ron Graham before his death on March 14, 2013, and finished by his wife, Nathele Graham