The Christmas Principle
by Gini Crawford
The real meaning of Christmas
I get so tired of our society being afraid to simply say, "Merry Christmas" because it isn't politically correct or woke. So that we don't offend anyone, the idea of a holiday season is pushed, even though the reason for the season is Christ. I love Christmas music even though some of the lyrics don't mention the true meaning of Christmas, but when that type of music is all that is played on the radio, well that saddens me. I was happy to read most countries in the world today celebrate Christmas, granted it is more cultrual and economics driven than by Jesus' birth, but any thought of Christmas can be positive.
Early Christianity celebrated Easter, then around the fourth century, the church started to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Christmas is defined in dictionaries as an annual festival celebrating the birth of Jesus. Christmas in the Bible is defined by what the One True God did for us - He was born so He could save us from our sins.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. Matthew 1:18-25 ESV®
No matter what your feelings are about the history and traditions of Christmas, I think we would all agree, the Christmas principle changes lives as nothing else can.
The world without Jesus's birth would be a world without the hope of eternal life. This is because without Jesus being our Savior (The name Jesus means savior.) sin and its eternal punishment would surround and control everyone's destiny, separating us from the God that loves us because He can have nothing to do with sin. (Isaiah 59:1-2; Ephesians 2:1-9).
Without Christmas we would be stuck in a world of perpetual death-suffering-evil, with people who are wrapped in self-indulgence and are pursuing things and people that only offer a counterfeit hope, love and joy. The book of Romans gives us a summary on how sin enslaves without Jesus, and as you would guess, how people act towards each other.
...They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless... / ...as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good not even one....they use their tongues to deceive....Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known..." Romans 1:28-31, 3:10-18 ESV®
My daughter-in-law's cousin was shot six times by a neighbor who didn't like what he was saying. I know it's hard to believe a man would shot another man over a disagreement. But without Jesus in a person's life, murderous anger can build and lead to very evil things. When he was shot, we were devastated but there was peace and hope, because if he did die, he would be in heaven because of Christmas. I am thankful to say, he is miraculously recovering. He thanks everyone for their prayers. Yes, we desperately need Christmas!
The coming of Christmas
In Matthew, God uses wise men and a prophecy of a star to tell people He had come (Number 24:17a). The prophecies in Numbers, Isaiah, Daniel and Micah most likely were ones that led the wisemen to Jesus. God had announced Jesus' coming in His Word hundreds of years before, so people, not just wisemen, would know their God was coming, to save them from their sins. (Isaiah 60:1-3; Daniel 9:24-26a; Micah 5:2). Yes, wise men still seek Him in His Word.
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him." When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet, 'And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.'" Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him." After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. Matthew 2:1-11 ESV®
The reality that Jesus did come and dwells with me, and what that means to me, got me thinking of doing this Christmas devotional. As you would deduce, Christmas made that possible. For the rest of this devotional, we will look at what it means for Jesus to be with us.
Christmas - God put on flesh
After decades of being a Christian, I am still in awe that Jesus took on flesh for me. If we are honest with ourselves, none of us deserved the sacrifice it cost God. Jesus in Isaiah is called - Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, and Prince of Peace. Jesus is the Sovereign Ruler of the universe. (Isaiah 9:6; 1 Timothy 1:15-17). Yet, out of love the unthinkable happened; Jesus Who is the Source of all life became one of the tiniest pieces of life, an embryo. Jesus is the Creator, but He allowed Himself to become the created, a baby. Silent night, oh holy night happened, because the God of the universe went from His throne in heaven to a manager on earth (John 1:1-4,14,16-17). He became a helpless baby because we were helpless to save ourselves from sin that literally enslaves us, driving us away from Him and His love. Joy to the world the Lord has come!
Life application: Jesus loved you enough to sacrifice everything that was owed Him as God, to come to this earth. This Christmas season, sacrifice some of your time away from the hustle and bustle of the season to be with Him. Read Isaiah 53. Prayerfully explain what this passage means to you thinking of Christmas. I guarantee time spent with Jesus is never a waste.
Christmas is God's glory dwelling with us
The night was a normal sheep watching night, and then all of sudden the night lit up with God's glory. What a life-changing sight it must of been. The shepherds were experiencing an incredible historical event that gave them a glimpse of God's presence. This amazing announcement, was outside Bethlehem in a field, not in an central locality, as people would expect, for an announcement that would change the world.
Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn king. The same glory of the Lord that shone around the shepherds making them intensively afraid, is the same glory that the angels were familiar with in heaven and which made them instantaneously fall down and worship Jesus Christ, The Lamb (Revelation 5:6, 11-14). The glory that was around the shepherds was the glory of the Triune God. God the Father and God the Holy Spirit were there that holy night with God the Son, Jesus, to celebrate the event of Christmas that would bring the people they loved back to them (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6; Ephesians 2:1-9).
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." 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 among those with whom he is pleased!" When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them... And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. Luke 2:8-20 ESV®
Life application: No wonder the angels were rejoicing over what was happening and singing praises to God. The God of glory was at that very moment willing to hide His heavenly glory that they knew all too well, and give up His rights as God to become a baby, to die for the sins of humankind, even though humankind wasn't particularly interested in their God. At that holy birth the Son of God emptied Himself of His heavenly glory to dwell temporarily on this earth and to permanently dwell within us through His Spirit. Read Isaiah 7:14, 9:6; John 14:1-11, 16-19. Prayerfully explain what these passages mean to you personally.
He(Jesus) was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.... No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known. John 1:10-11, 14, 18 ESV®
I have wondered at that time in history, if the shepherds were the only ones who would listen to God's angel and respond to His coming. God knew their hearts were open to Him because God knows all things, but where were the others? If you lived back then and God's angel announced His coming would you have gone to see Him? Or would you have not believed the heavenly announcement, or thought "how inconvenient to wander around Bethlehem" and not gone? Do you go out of your way to obey God and His Word like the shepherds did?
The Light that came Christmas night
I feel the baby in the manger being the Light of the world shows us so appropriately how Jesus really relates with us. Jesus didn't come in wrath and judgement, as some may think, but with a brilliant sacrificial love that shines with His grace (favor), so much so, that for the joy of being with us He endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2a). Jesus our Light, conquered the darkness by His death, sympathizes and doesn't condemn us, and gently leads us with mercy and grace (John 3:16-21; Romans 8:1; Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:15-16).
As Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem, the darkness that invaded the world because of sin surrounded them. Yet, things were changing; Mary was literally carrying the Light of the world within her. I bought a beautiful looking table at a thrift store. The outside of the table was polished to a beautiful elegance, so I was very surprised to realize the inside of the drawers were dirty with a dark something (no smell). After frustratingly cleaning the drawers many times to get the filthy darkness cleaned off, it hit me sin is like this in our lives. We can look great, stunning, respectable or good on the outside but inside have a darkness from sin (Mark 7:20-23). Sin stays like a cancer if we don't let Jesus light our way to salvation by receiving Him, and then as a Christian if we don't allow Him to cleanse/heal us from the darkness of sin (1 John 1:5-9).
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it ... The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:1-13 ESV®
Life application: Comparing God's light to physical light: Light allows us to know the right path to travel. Only through abiding in Jesus, our light, do we have the ability to see and understand God's path, which is the only path that takes us away from the darkness of sin onto a path of everlasting life, love, peace, joy and hope Read John 8:12, 10:10, 27-28, 14:6, 15:7-11, 16:13-14, 33. You turn on a lamp and it gives light. Jesus unconditionally and generously gives light to all who come to Him Read John 3:16-21. The light of the sun warms, grows things and cleanses. The light of the moon overcomes darkness. Jesus warms our whole being with His love and kindness and is never harsh towards us Read Titus 3:4-7. God's Word lights our path so we can grow spiritually Read Psalm 119:105; 2 Timothy 3:14-17. Jesus overcomes the darkness of sin in our lives so we can walk with Him Read John 8:12.
I really have no worth, ability or importance that God would want me, much less die for me when I was His enemy because of sin. I think, why would He sacrifice so much so I could be with Him now and in eternity? The only conclusion I can come too is He absolutely loves me. Jesus dwelling with me gives me the love and compassion I need and yearn for. You too? This would be a wonderful time to thank God (every day) for coming to this earth to pay for the irreplaceable gift of eternal life with His life, so He can be with you Read Ephesians 1:3-8a, 2:1-10; 1 John 4:9-11a.
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