Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas- The Who, What, Where and Why

This past Saturday I was able to go see our church's annual Christmas Program. The program changes every year, but it always shows our need for Jesus to be born, and die for us. It really got to me, how it explained the entirety of the Who, What, When and Why of Christmas. For those of us who know the story, I'd encourage you to summarize it (as I have below). It makes you realize how big this plan was, and how dramatic these times were for those living them. And, if you know someone who might not be saved or read their Bible, this is a 'easy' and possibly less intimidating summary of Christmas, and why his birth is so celebrated and important.

     Who was Jesus? Jesus was God, born as the "other Adam", "the Word became flesh". God came to this Earth and he dwelt among us.

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 any thing made that was made. John 1:1-3 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. John 1:14. And now, Father,  glorify me in your own presence with the glory  that I had with you  before the world existed. John 17:5.
     What happened on Christmas Eve is found mainly in Luke and Matthew. God sends an angel to tell a young girl (Mary) that she will give birth to the Savior. She was (not surprisingly) terrified, until the angel told her that she's been chosen because she has found favor with God. Joseph, her betrothed, was perplexed when she told him she was pregnant, and felt like a town joke. Being engaged to be married was like a new marriage in that culture at the time, and it was as if his new wife cheated, got pregnant and all before he had a chance to even lie with her (since being engaged they still have a time of separation from each other). He considers divorcing her, that is until an angel comes to tell him what Mary said was true. She was carrying the son of God, and that he should still keep the marriage contract.

In the sixth month [of Elizabeth, her cousin's pregnancy- see verses 1-25], the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,  to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary.  And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”  But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.  And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,  and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”    And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”    And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.  And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. Luke 1:26-35

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). Matthew 18:23

     When it came time for Mary to give birth, a census was ordered from Caesar Augustus for all in his lands to visit their place of birth to be registered. Despite living in Nazareth, Joseph had been born in Bethlehem so a long trip was ordered. They eventually reach the city of Bethlehem to find all the rooms and places to give birth were occupied (as all the towns were filled with visitors, coming for the census). One innkeeper offers his stable, which was at least a form of shelter.
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.  This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria.  And all went to be registered, each to his own town.  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,  to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.  And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.  And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 1:1-7

Shepherds in the fields were visited by an angel, telling them that their Savior had been born, and where to find him.

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.” Luke 2: 8-12

They left their fields and traveled to find him as they were told. Leaving, they told everyone what had happened, praising and glorifying God, and people listened to their words.

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 1:17-18, 20

     Why is this so important? Jesus was a gift to us, sent to not only teach us about God but to die for our sins. Jesus being born on Christmas essentially pre-paid the fines of everyone in whole. God won't let sinners into Heaven. Being a just judge, he requires payment for our sins. We could never pay this fine so Jesus was a gift given to us, by God, to live among us and die by our hands. Everytime that we take His name in vain or lie or get angry at the driver ahead of us, we condemn ourselves further.

In the Old Testament, we were commanded to shed the blood of a lamb (or other animals). However. that was a tedious, never-ending sacrifice. One minute, you'd be sacrificing a lamb on an alter to God for you sins. Then, walking home, you'd stub your toe, swear, and have to find another lamb to sacrifice.  They only thing we need to do is redeem that payment by asking forgiveness and repenting (turning away from that sinful life). And, because of this gift, you desire nothing more than to live a life that would glorify God.

If you're like us, and are having people over tonight- watch The Nativity Story here. My favorite version since it isn't a hollywood movie that glosses over and changes the facts (but is still captivating).

Interested in reading more?
Holy Week- the chain of events, arriving on a bed of palm branches to walking his cross to Calvary.
The Most Important News- The "Why" in this article, but explained with more detail
What do you adore, this Christmas season?
Preparing yourself for Christmas

So tell me...
Have you ever wanted Bible 'cliff notes' for yourself or for others?
What are the ways you remember the Christmas story?
Have you seen The Nativity Story?


  1. This is a lovely post about the true story of Christmas. Have a merry one!

  2. Beautiful and meaningful and lovely. I might just read it to my kids today.

  3. Thank you so much for recounting this beautiful story. Merry Christmas to you! Keep proclaiming truth and love as you already are. Rah! Rah dear friend!

  4. Thanks for sharing. Earlier this month I found myself sharing this story with my four year old class; it does help when you share it with others. Blessings to you and your family.

  5. Such a beautiful recounting of the true meaning of Christmas! Thanks for sharing, Farin!


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