I heard a story about a teacher who asked three of her students how they all celebrate Christmas. The first student, a Roman Catholic said, “We go to midnight mass, then we go home, sleep, wake up the next morning, have a big breakfast, sit around a tree and open presents.” The second student, a United Methodist said, “We do something similar too, we go to a candlelight service, then we go home, sleep, wake up in the next morning, have a big breakfast, then we sit around a tree and open presents.”
The third student added, “We are not Christians but we believe in Christmas. As a matter of fact, on Christmas morning, we get up, have a big breakfast, then our daddy drives us to his department store. You see, my daddy owns a department store. There he shows us all the empty shelves of things that there were there before Christmas. Then he takes us to the cash register, and then he opens it up and shows us all the money that he made during the Christmas time. Then we all stand in a circle around the cash registry and we hold hands and sing, ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’”
Christmas was never about gifts, sales or discount, No! It is easy to believe in Christmas and dismiss the Christ of the mass. Christmas means a lot of things to a lot of people. But, as far as God the Father is concerned, Christmas means only one thing. As far as the angels of heaven are concerned, Christmas means only one thing. As far as the word of God is concerned, Christmas means only one thing. As far as the Lord Jesus Christ is concerned, Christmas means only one thing.
And it is simply truly this – That the God who has no beginning and no end, the God who created all of the billions and billions of planets, the God who created and sustains all of the universe laid down the splendour of heaven and the glories of heaven, became an embryo in a virgin’s womb, was born of a virgin, and then he died on a cross to pay the penalty of our sins, so that whom so ever will come to him in repentance and faith will receive forgiveness and eternal life.
God knew that people will be tempted to get carried away about his birth and ignore his mission, command, life and what he came to give us. God knew that people will be tempted to celebrate Christmas without Christ. And so, God defined the meaning and the purpose of the name Jesus as revealed by the Angel who said to Joseph and Mary (Matthew 1:21 & Luke 1:31), “And you shall call his name Jesus, for he and he alone shall save his people from their sins.“ His people are simply those who receive him and believe in the meaning and purpose of his name (John 1:12).
God revealing and giving of himself through Christ Jesus is what Christmas is all about, and that is why God announced the birth of his one and only son in a variety of ways. God announced Jesus’s birth to the shepherds through an angel, and then he announced to the scientists through the stars. To you and to me, God has not left himself without a witness, God also sends us stars in the person of faithful friends. These people are used of God to call us to come and worship Jesus and worship him alone. Even better, God gave us the Bible, his word.
The bible was written in a span of 1600 years. The Holy Spirit authored the Bible but he chose tens of different writers throughout that span of 1600 years, and they all came from different backgrounds and professions, yet, they tell the same story. It is not by accident that the Bible begins with Genesis and ends with Revelation. Peter tells us that we can trust the word of God because it came from God (2 Peter 1:20-21).
There is a world of difference between astrology and astronomy. Astrology claims that the stars want to speak to us individually. By nature, we all want to know what the future holds, and that is why so many people consult fortune-tellers and horoscopes. Sadly, so many people would rather believe in the so-called lining of the stars and the star speaking to them, rather than believe in the God who lined all the stars in their orbits and named them by name.
Astronomy, on the other hand, is a science of studying the movement of the galaxies and the planets. Science is often credited to have begun in Persia (modern-day Iran) several hundred years before Jesus was born of a virgin in Bethlehem of Judea. Back then, scientists/astronomers were the most powerful people on the face of the earth. For a period of 400 years, these scientists studied the galaxies and planets in anticipation of the appearance of the bright star as made known to them by prophet Daniel.
As a matter of fact, new computer simulations have revealed that Jupiter became extremely close to earth around 2 B.C. Persia scientists who for generations had been studying astronomy and anticipating the appearance of this bright planet were ecstatic the moment they saw it. When they saw this bright star, these scientists who grew up in a pagan culture knew the time had come to worship Jesus. They knew that Daniel’s prophecy 400 years earlier was now been fulfilled. They knew the God of heaven has come to earth. Regardless of whether the star of Bethlehem was indeed Jupiter or another star, the most important thing is this:
God’s glory was manifested in the galaxies. God’s proclamation of the birth of his one and only divine sinless son was proclaimed in the heavens
The reason the Bible refers to this scientist as wise men is because they responded to the call of God in following the star that was appointed by God and went to worship the only one and true God. They immediately obeyed the message of the star, they went where the star had led them. They responded to the invitation of the star. Will you? For you know the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor. Why? So that you through his poverty might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). Here’s the paradox:
- Jesus underwent human birth so that all who place their faith in Him alone, as their saviour alone, as their Lord alone, can undergo spiritual rebirth.
- Jesus had nowhere to sleep during his earthly ministry, and yet he promised that there will be plenty of room in his Father’s house for those who believe him.
- Jesus became a member of the human race so that we who love him can become members of the heavenly race.
- Jesus put aside the manifestation of his splendour and glory for a time so that we who love him may receive his glory forever.
- Jesus was welcomed to the earth which he created by poor and humble shepherds, so that we who love him may be welcomed by his mighty angels in heaven. For Jesus himself said (Luke 15:7), that there is more rejoicing in heaven when one sinner repents and come to Christ.
The baby in a manger was not a baby for long, he grew up and became a man. Jesus was like all men, but he was different from all men. Jesus felt exactly like we all do but he lived above his feelings. Jesus was tempted in every way like we all are, but he never sinned or gave in to temptation. And at the age of 33, he hung on a cross to redeem all those who come to him. The sinless carried our sin. The perfect died for the imperfect and died a gruesome criminal death in other to satisfy the justice of God.
Jesus is one day coming back to this earth he created to rule in glory and in power. On that great day, he will judge every single one of us. Romans 2:1-7 tells us that God will judge believers on the basis of the extent of their submission to the lordship of Jesus Christ. God is going to judge those who have heard the gospel and rejected it on the basis of that rejection. God is going to judge those who might never have heard the name of Jesus on the basis of God’s natural revelation, both in creation and on the imprinted law of God by virtue of been created in God’s own image. Would he be your judge or your advocate?
The choice is yours.
“If you have a flight ticket to go to New York City tonight and can’t make your mind up whether to go or not and wait past the departure time before making your decision, the choice would have been made nevertheless. The plane would take off without you. Decisions are made whether we make them or not. Time would always decide, and time always decides against you. If you don’t know Christ Jesus. I want to plead with you today to come not just to know about him but to know him. He his longing for you to come to him, with arms wide open, he loves you and he cares for you, he died on a cross for you. He wants to have an everlasting intimate relationship with you. You may not have the power to change your old ways or give up those habits you know are wrong, you may not have the power to change your whole life you know needs to be changed, but if you surrender to Christ, he will give you the power.” – Billy Graham