A Special thank you, Chaplain Jeffery Mowen, for blessing us on this blog collaboration!
Do you know the true significance of Christmas?
Believe it or not, numerous people do not know the true significance of Christmas. As a child, my great grandmother made sure I knew the real meaning of Christmas. She and I would sit in her chair and she would tell me the Bible story written in the Gospel of Luke 1:26-38: God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin vowed to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to Mary and said, 'Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.' Mary grew greatly concerned thinking about his words and wondered what kind of greeting this could be. Yet the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.' How can this be,' Mary questioned the angel, 'since I am a virgin?'
The angel replied, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God. “I am the Lord's servant”, Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel Gabriel left her.
Mary was probably between the ages of 14-16 when she gave birth to Jesus. To us, it may sound rather young however throughout biblical times this was a common age for a woman to be engaged. Joseph was probably a few years older than Mary. The couple lived in the town of Nazareth. The angel Gabriel, that was sent to visit Mary, is God's chief messenger angel and only appears to very important people in the Bible. The first words that Gabriel spoke to Mary “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you”. These are very important words. “Highly favored” means; God's holy grace is upon you and is a divine blessing from God - something that would have never normally been said to a peasant girl like Mary. She would have been very frightened by this and that is why Gabriel said “Do not be afraid'.
Mary pondered the words spoken to her by the angel Gabriel and she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, whom the Lord was also to bless with a baby. Mary went to visit Elizabeth before she even told Joseph about her visit from angel Gabriel informing her of Jesus. The Gospel of Matthew 1:18- 25 records the following. Jesus Christs' mother Mary was vowed 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. But after he had contemplated this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and declared, '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 his people from their sins.' Everything that took place was 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.' When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
The Bible describes the journey that would take Joseph and Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem to register for the census for Roman taxation which came from the decree sent out by Caesar Augustus. Luke 2:4-7: So Joseph went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.
The actual significance of Christmas is love. John 3:16-17 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." The true meaning of Christmas is the celebration of this incredible act of love.
God became a human being in the Person of Jesus Christ. The generation old question remains; why would God do such a thing? The answer is simple LOVE. It was done out of love his love for us. God is love. 1 John 4:9-10: This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. We celebrate Christmas to worship the birth of Jesus Christ who was born to one day die for our sins.
Christmas is so much more than a Christmas tree lights and gifts.
Christmas is love!
The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 9:15; “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift”. What a statement. It does not mean that you cannot describe anything about the Lord Jesus Christ. He is making the claim that the possibilities are infinite to do so. The birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just one of the many foundational truths to the Christian faith. But it is an absolute essential truth! The Eternal God would humble Himself to take the form of humanity and enter into His creation through the womb of a young lady named Mary.
The first Christmas was all about “presence” (not presents). His presence - Immanuel (God with us). The young Virgin Mary asked the question, how is this to be? An honest question indeed. The answer by-passed her biological thinking, as the angel opened her eyes to the theological truths of God’s divine plan. God the Father would bring forth God the Son, through the miraculous work of God the Holy Spirit. Mary humbled herself and surrendered to the sovereign will of God. She embraced the super-natural power of God over the laws of nature. Gabriel declared to her in Luke 1:37; “For nothing is impossible with God”. Her reply in the following verse shows the very essence of a heart filled with love willing to be used for the purposes and plans of God whenever He calls. “I am the Lord's servant”. “May it be to me as you have said.”
Mary gave herself freely to be used as a vessel for the most glorious gift that can ever be given or received. Jesus is the “Christ” of Christmas. He is the gift of God’s love, grace, hope, and life everlasting. On that first Christmas night, Mary delivered the Savior of the world. It is our prayer; that this Christmas, the Savior of the world has delivered you!
Have a most Blessed and Joyous Christmas