More Than A Christmas Story

For many people Christmas has become not the celebration of the birth of Christ, but merely another excuse to eat, drink and be merry! For the sake of brevity some write “xmas” instead of the full word, and while innocent enough on its own, it does symbolise a greater problem. For as in the abbreviation many take the Christ out of Christmas, in a very real sense many people in their lives have taken out Christ and refuse Him entrance into their lives.

It seems many misappropriate Christmas. We stop short of celebrating Christmas properly as we exalt the birth, the nativity scene, above Calvary and Christ’s second coming. Please consider with me what Christmas should truly mean.

It must be more than just the nativity scene. When we look upon the many cards and images depicting the birth of Christ it should strike a chord in our hearts when we realise that the tiny baby Jesus came to die for you and me. We ought to meditate on the fact that Christ turned His back on the glories of heaven to begin life in a stable, to consider that some 33 years later Christ suffered and died on Calvary and to hope for that glorious day when He comes again!

At Christmas we need to remember,

Creation, the Cradle, the Cross and the Crown

In the New Testament in the book of Philippians we find a passage that brings these four segments of the life of Christ together. In Philippians 2:5-11 we have painted for us a very broad picture of Christ. In verses 5-6 we see the Christ of Creation, in verse 7 we see Christ in the Cradle, in verse 8 we see Christ on the Cross and finally in verses 9-11 we see Christ with a Crown.

Here we find the Christ of our salvation, not merely a baby lying in a cradle, but the Christ that created all that exists, that humbled Himself to become one of us, Who died a terrible death for our sins and the Christ Who one day will return to rule and reign on this earth.

The Christ of Creation
“5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:”
Philippians 2:5-6

This verse clearly states Christ was in the form of God and He did not think it robbery, an attack or affront on God, to consider Himself equal. This was no new age philosophy but rather an expression of the truth that Jesus Christ was and is God.
Logically the best place to start is at the beginning and we will think right back to the very beginning. In Genesis 1:1 we read, “In the beginning God…” and thus begins the history of the universe. The history of the human race begins 5 days later. 

With the thought in mind of God creating the universe, consider John 1:1-3 & 14a, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.”

Does Genesis 1:1 contradict or compliment John 1:1? I say they compliment each other. We read “in the beginning God” and “in the beginning the Word.” Obviously the Word and God are the same. John 1:1 tells the same story as Genesis 1:1, but elaborates on it. Further along in John 1 we read that this Word became flesh and dwelt among us. None other than Christ can fit this description.

At this time of year we ought to remember that Bethlehem was not the beginning of Christ, but rather the beginning of Christ among men. Up until now it was only said that He would be called Emmanuel, until now this was not a title He would claim. However, since that glorious day at Bethlehem that title properly belongs to Him, Emmanuel – God with us!
Having briefly considered Christ in Creation, let us move on to Christ in the Cradle.

Christ in the Cradle
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Philippians 2:7

Prophesies about the life of Christ are numerous, but for the sake of space we will confine our study to these passages.

A Child Is Born
A more widely known prophesy is found in Isaiah 9:6. This passage gives more detail about the Promised Deliverer. The Messiah would be born a child; He would begin life as each of us do. The Scripture here, as it often does, mingles the prophecies of the first and second advent. Into this world Christ was born as a child, unto us a child is born, but before His birth He was already a Son and so the Scriptures state that unto us a Son is given. Then we see four titles for the Messiah: Wonderful Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace. Each name signifying both His humanity and deity. He would be a counsellor, mighty, a father and a prince, but also wonderful, God, everlasting and peace.

The Virgin Birth
One of the most important prophesies we find in Isaiah 7:14. This verse promises Christ would be born of a virgin. Over in the New Testament in Matthew 1:23 this promise is fulfilled.

Something very familiar to those inside and outside the church is that Christ was born of a virgin. Mary conceived a child by the Holy Ghost and gave birth to Jesus Christ. People deny this miracle and say the verse here merely means a young woman, or a single woman, but this attacks the very foundation of our salvation, for without the virgin birth there can be no salvation. If Christ had a human heritage involving a human father, then He too would have borne the curse and could not have died for anyone but Himself.  The virgin birth is essential to our faith and must be believed and defended with all our might.

O Little Town of Bethlehem
In Micah 5:2 God gives us the exact place of Christ’s birth – Bethlehem. Some prophecies receive the accusation that they are vague and anyone could fulfil them but notice the specific nature of this passage. We see that Christ would be born in Bethlehem. There were a number of towns called Bethlehem in Christ’s day and so the Lord specifically stated it would be Bethlehem Ephratah where Christ would be born. God left nothing to chance and here we have a specific prophecy.

The Christmas story is familiar to each on of us. Israel had fallen under the rule of the Roman Empire and at that time Caesar Augustus came to power. He decreed that all the Roman Empire be taxed and for that purpose every taxpayer had to return to the town of their birth in order to pay. Joseph and Mary travel the long journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Previously God had sent an angel to inform Mary that she would conceive a son and call His name Jesus. Joseph also received a message from the Lord telling him of the child that Mary would bear. They arrive at Bethlehem and discover no room available for them to stay at, but they are offered a stable for the night. That same night shepherds in nearby fields see and hear the angelic chorus and make their way to find the child. That night Mary gave birth to the baby Jesus. At some point the wise men from the east arrived and offered their gifts to Immanuel, the Messiah.

Now all too often we stop here. We see Joseph and Mary in a stable, a couple of donkeys in the background, perhaps a cow or two, the shepherds stand around in awe of the newborn babe and the wise men offer their gold, frankincense and myrrh. The baby Jesus lies in a manger. With this thought in mind we go our separate ways and get back to the giving of gifts and sparkling lights.

The birth of Christ is a miraculous event! That Christ, the Son of the living God, the second person in the Godhead should stoop down and become one of us is awesome! Christ turned His back on the glorious of Heaven and entered this world as a tiny baby. As a baby He utterly depended on God the Father for protection. The Creator became the created; Christ took upon Himself robes of flesh and for a time dwelt among us.

Look again at Philippians 2:5-7. Christ performed the ultimate act of humility in becoming one of us. The Almighty, invincible Creator of the universe took upon Himself the form of a servant and the likeness of mankind. But further humiliation came when He submitted to the sufferings and death on the cross. It would have been quite different if Christ had been born elsewhere. For Christ in the eyes of the world at that time could have been no lower humanly speaking. He didn’t come to the ruling class of Romans, but as a captive Jew. Nor did he come to the wealthy and elite of Israel, but in the despised region of Nazareth.

Christ, God in the flesh dwelt on this earth. He entered this world in a stable and received only the welcome of parents, wise men and a few shepherds. Throughout His life He was a servant to those around Him and gave of Himself to please God the Father and those He met. When we consider the nativity we should consider the full implications, not just the image the world throws at us each year at this time.

When we see the nativity scene remember all that Christ sacrificed in order to become one of us. The birth of Christ in Bethlehem was part of a long journey for Christ. It is a journey that began in the glories of Heaven in eternity past, and that ended one eventful, one ultimately sorrowful, but also one wonderful day, when He died upon Calvary. That leads us to our next point.

Christ on the Cross
And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Philippians 2:8

The Old Testament not only speaks in detail of the birth of Christ but also of His death. Again, we must always remember that Christ was born into this world that He could die for our sins.

Christ’s Rejection – Zechariah 11
In this passage we have a picture of the nation of Israel rejecting God, both in the Old Testament and also rejecting Christ in the New Testament. The prophecy reached fruition when Judas sold Christ for thirty shekels. In this passage many truths are evident, but we will focus on the issue of the thirty shekels. God in Zechariah in a sense is saying, “If you think anything of all I have given you, if you are now going to reject me, at least give me something to have made it worth my while.” They consider His words and offer thirty pieces of silver.

Later in Matthew 26:15 the same happens again. Judas, the religious leaders and really the whole nation consider all that Christ had done and at the end of the day He was valued at thirty pieces of silver! A paltry sum, indeed, how can we fix a price upon a priceless treasure? How can a price be fixed on the God of Creation?

The Cross of Christ – Psalm 22
In Psalm 22 we have details such as the words Christ would say on the cross, details of those who would crucify Him, events surrounding His death and even detailed descriptions of the internal physical effects of crucifixion. At the time of the writing of Psalm 22 crucifixion was unknown in the Jewish world.

Beginning in verse one the Psalmist cries out: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Compare this to Matthew 27:46 where Christ cries from the cross, “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

One Medical Doctor has compared Psalm 22 and the cardiovascular effects of crucifixion and found Psalm 22 a perfect description!

As Christ hung on the cross the sins of the world were placed upon Him. We read in II Corinthians 5:21: “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” The first “he” is God the Father and the “him” refers to Christ. This verse tells us that God the Father put our sins upon God the Son for the purpose of giving us the gift of righteousness necessary to enter Heaven.

There can be no doubt Christ suffered physically as well as spiritually on the cross. Take the time to read the Gospel account of Christ’s suffering and death on the cross of Calvary.

Christ with a Crown
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:9-11

I want to end this short article by looking into the future. Not in the sense that astrologists look at the stars and imagine they see their futures foretold: neither in the sense that the palm readers or anyone else who purports to tell the future. Generally all those people will be the first to rubbish the existence of God and tell you we are here as a result of random events beginning with the “Big Bang” where there was so much nothing that it actually exploded. In the randomness of the universe, they order their lives. But that is by the by.

The Bible does give us details concerning the future. Do you realise that for every 1 of the prophecies fulfilled by Christ at His first coming 8 are left concerning His second coming? That means we have 8 times more information about the second coming of Christ as we do about the first. Now if you believe all that the Scriptures have said about Christ’s existence in eternity past, and have seen that the detailed prophecies of Christ’s first coming were fulfilled to the letter then why not believe that Christ is coming again? Consider a few of these passages with me now.

Every Knee Will Bow
In this day and age many doubt the existence of Christ, let alone the fact that He will one day return. The name of Christ is a by word, a term to show their anger at something. Though many today know the name, few actually know about the life of Christ and of the importance of the birth of Christ

Have no doubts, though, that as the passage declares, one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Christ will come to right wrongs and set up a truly just and wonderful kingdom on this earth.

While on this earth Christ promised He would return. He said to His disciples in John 14:3, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. “

Everybody has an appointment with God. If we choose to meet with Him here and accept His way of salvation our personal meeting will be one of excitement and completion! If we neglect to meet with God in this life, our appointment with Him in the next will be one of judgment and despair.

God’s Plan of Salvation
God tells us in the Bible that when we die we will either go to Heaven or Hell. Our destination is final and determined by a crucial decision made in this life.

We read in John chapter 3 verses 16-18 “16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

Salvation is not about what we do after we die, but a decision we make before we die!
 
God tells us, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” – I John 5:13

If you want to KNOW that your sins are forgiven and that if you died today you would go to Heaven then please pray and speak with God now. Tell Him you know you are a sinner and worthy of being judged. But that you also know Christ, the sinless Son of God has paid the price when He died on Calvary. Accept Jesus Christ as your Saviour and God will accept you!

This is the most important decision you will ever make and we want to help in any way we can! If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

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