It’s Christmas time again! What exactly is Christmas? Christmas is the commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In the birth of Jesus, the eternal, all-powerful and all-knowing Creator came to earth in the flesh. So, Christmas is the celebration of the incarnation of God in Jesus.
Thus, it is important to remember that the existence of the son of God did not commence with His birth in Bethlehem. He existed “in the beginning” before anything was created. (John 1:1-3). “The ‘Word’ became flesh and lived among us.” (John 1:14)
Let me now place before you, a historical sequence of events as it took place, as well as the present-day celebration of Christmas.
The Beginning of Christmas
In the time of King Herod, in the small town of Bethlehem, a baby boy was born to a young virgin, named Mary. Little did she know; this child would be the Saviour of all humanity.
The Angel speaks to Mary
This young woman was promised in marriage to a carpenter, named Joseph. But before they were married the angel Gabriel came to Mary, and pronounced that she would soon become pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. Gabriel then spoke, stating that the son born of her would be named “Jesus, because he will save His people from their sins.”
The visit to Elizabeth
Once the angel left her, Mary went to stay with her cousin Elizabeth who was already six months pregnant, as foretold by the angel. While there, though well past the age of childbearing, Elizabeth gave birth to a son who was later known as John the Baptist.
On hearing that his soon-to-be wife was pregnant, Joseph decided to divorce her quietly. But as soon as he decided this, the Angel appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit”.
Meanwhile, Caesar Augustus, the Roman Emperor, issued an order that a census should take place in the entire Roman empire. Because of this, Joseph and Mary had to go to Bethlehem, for that was the birthplace of Joseph.
Born in the manger
While they were in Bethlehem, time came for Mary to deliver the baby but because of the crowds for the census, they couldn’t get a place in any of the inns. A kind man allowed them to stay in his stable for the night and it was there that Mary gave birth to the King of all Kings.
Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and said, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy, for today in the city of David a saviour has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.”
The Wise Men from the East
After Jesus was born, three wise men (Magi) came from the east following a star with gifts to worship the new born child. On hearing the news, they brought, King Herod, told them to come back to him when they found the Messiah. When they saw the child with his mother, they prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Flight into Egypt
The, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said,” Get up, take the child and his mother and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod will soon be looking for the child in order to kill him.” (Matthew 2:13)
The Massacre of the Innocents
Eventually after the wise men had seen Jesus, an angel spoke to them warning them not to go back to Herod, for he wanted to kill the child. Filled with anger at the way the magi had outwitted him, Herod issued an order to kill all male children under the age of two in Bethlehem.
Christmas around the world
Today, Christmas is characterised by celebrations of various kinds: family get-togethers, Christmas cribs, Christmas carols, Christmas trees, Christmas stars, Christmas meals, Christmas cakes, Christmas picnics, Santa Claus, the reindeer, annual giving of Christmas gifts and solemn Church services.
Every year when Christmas arrives, people are looking for different things. Some people are looking for gifts. Some people looking for new clothes. Some people are looking for fun. Some people are looking for good food. Some people are looking for community and family. Some people are looking for a holiday. Some people are looking for answers. Some people are looking for freedom. Some people are looking for hope.
God is looking for something! He’s looking for your heart. Jesus came into the world looking to save those that were lost, those that were trapped with no way out, those stuck in sin, those stuck in depression, those stuck in anxiety, those stuck in guilt and condemnation, those stuck in self-righteousness and pride, those stuck in false beliefs. Jesus came into the world to save us. This is the true meaning of Christmas.
God sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world to save you and me from our sins. “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” (John 3:16).
Ultimately, the blessings of Christmas have to be found in the presence of God in our personal lives, in our behaviour, in our relationships and in the way, we service others.