Month: December 2015

The Joy of Christmas

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Christmas is past and New Year’s is coming. It’s a time of celebration and feasting. Plates are full of food, but what about your heart? Are you getting your fill? Have you topped up with joy?

Parties are held. Fireworks are shot off. Gifts are purchased and exchanged. Friends celebrate together. Families have special meals. Carols are sung. Sermons are preached. In many different ways and different places around the world, Christmas and New Year’s Day is celebrated.

But when all the celebration is over, how many of us still have empty hearts? Christmas is an announcement of joy. The angel announced to the shepherds,

Luke 2:10 ESV … ”Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 

You were made for joy. Great joy.

A Time of Feasting and Rejoicing

In the Old Testament, God established set times when the entire nation of Israel was to stop all normal activities and celebrate. These were times of feasting and celebrating what God had done for the nation. For example, God instructs the Israelites concerning the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles),

Leviticus 23:40-41 ESV … you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. 41 You shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year…

These were times of rejoicing and gladness and great celebration.

Should we celebrate Christmas? Some people do not celebrate the birth of Christ.

  • Some do not celebrate it because of religious reasons. 
  • Christmas is not celebrated in Thailand, for example, because its population is almost entirely Buddhist. 
  • While some Hindus celebrate Christmas in their own way, others worry about the influence of Christmas on Hinduism. They worry, as they well might, that Christmas might influence Hindus to become Christians! Hinduism has two million gods, but none can compare with the one true God, the one who was from the beginning who became flesh, who was seen and touched and who hungered and thirsted and bled and died and was raised again and show himself to be alive with many proofs. None can compare with the incomparable Christ.
  • Christmas is not celebrated in most Islamic countries, and some have outlawed Christmas. The Guardian reports that the governments of Somalia, Tajikistan and Brunei (just north of Indonesia) – “have banned Christmas celebrations this year, with punishments ranging up to a five-year jail term.”[1]
  • Others do not celebrate Christmas because they do not know about Jesus Christ. 

Should we celebrate the birth of Christ? Some people do not think that Christians should celebrate Christmas because the Bible does not tell us to celebrate it. What are we to think of that?

1. We can celebrate Christ’s birth because we are free to celebrate it.

Are we to do only things that the Bible tells us to do? What if something is not mentioned in the Bible? Does that mean that we cannot do it? There are many things that we do that the Bible does not tell us to do. We build church buildings, and drive cars, and fly around the world in airplanes. We use computers and mobile phones, and listen to the radio. There are hundreds of things that we do on a regular basis that the Bible never told us to do, but these are not moral or ethical issues.

The Bible is not a list of rules, a list of things that we must do and things that we must not do. That is a complete misunderstanding of Christianity.

2 Corinthians 3:17 ESV Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 

Freedom! The Christian life is one of freedom! Freedom to do what is right.

Galatians 5:1 ESV For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 

Galatians 5:1 NLT So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law. 

Some would tie us up! Some tell us that we must worship on a certain day but not on Sunday. That is slavery. Some tell us that we must not celebrate Christmas. That is another form of slavery. “Do this! Don’t do that!”

Colossians 2:16 NLT So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. 

Colossians 2:20-22 NLT You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, 21 “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? 22 Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. 

As Christians, we are free to celebrate and to rejoice in the good things that God has done for us.

2. We can celebrate Christ’s birth because the Bible shows that God’s people are free to celebrate God’s goodness.

We find two feasts in the Bible that were not prescribed under the Law of Moses. One of those feasts is found in the Old Testament and the other in the New Testament.

First there is the Feast of Purim. It is not mentioned in the Law. In fact, it was instituted by the Jews almost a thousand years after Moses came down from Mt. Sinai. It is the Book of Esther that tells us about the Feast of Purim. It was a celebration of the defeat of Haman’s plot to massacre the Jews. Every year to this day, the Jews celebrate their deliverance from Haman’s plot. Every year, they celebrate the Feast of Purim.

In the New Testament, in John 10:22, we read about the Feast of Dedication. This feast was not prescribed in the Old Testament. A Seleucid ruler named Antiochus Epiphanes IV had desecrated the temple in Jerusalem. The Jews revolted against his rule, regained control of Israel, and rededicated the temple in December 164 B.C. The Feast of Dedication was an eight-day feast which celebrated the rededication of the Jewish temple nearly 1,300 years after the Law was given. The Feast was not prescribed by the Law, yet the Jews were perfectly free to celebrate the event. This very week, the Jews are celebrating this Feast of Dedication. It is called Hanukkah.

If the Jews were free to institute the Feast of Purim and the Feast of Dedication, how much more are we as Christians free to celebrate the coming of Christ into the world. Over and over again, the Bible speaks of Christ’s coming “into the world.”

Consecrated by the Father and sent into the world.

John 10:36 ESV do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?

Hebrews 1:6 ESV And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”

Hebrews 10:5 ESV Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said [to the Father], “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me;

On the night before his crucifixion, Jesus said to his disciples,

John 16:28 ESV I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”

He prayed to the Father that night:

John 17:18 ESV As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.

What about all those Christmas lights? Christ was sent into the world as the Light of the World:

John 1:9 ESV The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

John 3:19 ESV And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.

John 12:46 ESV I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.

Christ was sent to save:

John 3:17 ESV For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

John 18:37 ESV Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world– to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

1 John 4:9 ESV In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.

This calls for a response:

John 6:14 ESV When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”

John 11:27 ESV She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

Christians have great reason to celebrate Christmas. We remember the coming into the world of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We gave thanks that

1 Timothy 1:15 ESV … Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners… 

We remember that

John 3:16 ESV “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 

We remember that the angel had said to Joseph concerning Mary,

Matthew 1:21 ESV She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

We have reason to celebrate and to give thanks…

As Christians, we have reason to celebrate and give thanks that God has given us his Son. But

Why do unbelievers celebrate Christmas?

Christmas is without question a Christian holy day. One cannot talk of Christmas without mention Christ, the Holy One of God. And yet, I think one could say without fear of contradiction, that Christmas is not only the most widely celebrated Christian holiday, but it is also the holiday that is generally celebrated by more unbelievers than any other.

The Pew Research Center has published some very interesting information about how Christmas is celebrated in the United States.[2]

According to the Pew Research Center, 96% of all Christians celebrate Christmas. Well, there is no big surprise there. But here is the surprise:

  • 81% of all non-Christians in the United States also celebrate Christmas (2013 research).
  • 76% of Asian-American Buddhists celebrate Christmas (2012 research).
  • 73% of American Hindus celebrate Christmas (2012).
  • One-third (32%) of American Jews put up a Christmas tree in their home.
  • There are even a number of Muslims who celebrate Christmas.

But that begs the question, Why would unbelievers celebrate a Christian holiday since they do not believe in Christ?

Who could deny that Christmas is a joyous occasion? We celebrate Christmas with lights and candles and decorations and Christmas trees. We exchange gifts because God gave His one and only Son. We sing songs and carols. We bake special cakes and cookies (biscuits). We prepare special meals to make the occasion memorable. It is a time of joy and celebration. So why would unbelievers celebrate a Christian holiday since they do not believe in Christ?

The simple answer is that we were created for joy.

Unbelievers, whether they are atheists, or pagans, or Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, or Muslims — they do not want to miss out on the joy. We were made for joy. We were created for joy. God is a joyful God. He is full of joy, and he created us in him image. He created us to know joy, so there is a deep longing for joy in the human heart.

God created us to know joy, so there is a deep longing for joy in the human heart.

Last Sunday morning as I was on my way to Radio FM107, I saw a drunk man lying in the parking lot of a nearby nightclub. A kind friend was with him, taking care of him until the effects of alcohol wore off. Why was the man drunk? Why had he been drinking? Because he was empty. He was looking for something. He may not have been able to define it. But there was something pushing him to search for the missing something, the joy that he was meant for.

There was undoubtedly a lot of alcohol that was consumed to celebrate Christmas, and more will be consumed to celebrate New Year’s Day. Why the bottle? Why the kava? Why the drugs? Because we were made for joy. We know that there is something more. We have a deep longing in ourselves for joy. We desire to be filled.

Many unbelievers celebrate Christmas to try to generate joy. Many people celebrate celebrating. It’s party time for them. It is just one more excuse to party. Let the fun begin! But the problem is that the bottle is a cheap substitute for the real thing. Alcohol, kava, and mind-altering drugs give no lasting joy. Instead, they destroy and take the place of the one who alone can fill the deepest longing of the human heart. As Augustine wrote in his book Confessions, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

The message of Christmas is that the source of our joy has come:

Luke 2:8-14 ESV And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 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. 10 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. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

The Bible makes much of rejoicing.

As one Bible scholar (Karl Barth) said, “It is astonishing how many references there are in the Old and New Testaments to delight, joy, bliss, exultation, merry-making, and rejoicing, and how emphatically these are demanded from the Book of Psalms to the Epistle to the Philippians.”[3]

The foundation of joy is God himself. Our God is a rejoicing God.

Isaiah 62:5 ESV For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you. 

Isaiah 65:19 ESV I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people;..

Zephaniah 3:17 ESV The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. 

In Luke 15, Jesus tells the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. When the man finds his lost sheep,

Luke 15:6 ESV … he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 

When the woman finds the lost coin,

Luke 15:9 ESV … she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 

When the father finds his lost son, he throws a party and says to the older brother,

Luke 15:32 ESV It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'” 

Jesus tells us that when the lost are found, there is great joy in heaven:

Luke 15:7 ESV Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents …

Luke 15:10 ESV Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

The Nature of Joy

We must understand that real lasting joy does not come in a bottle.

Nor does joy depend on our circumstances. Paul and Silas were attacked in Philippi. Their clothes were torn off them. They were beaten severely with rods, thrown into prison with their feet fastened in the stocks. That doesn’t sound like the formula for joy, but we read in

Acts 16:25 ESV About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God…

Colossians 1:24 ESV Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake…

The Source of Joy

How can we top up on joy?

1. Joy comes from knowing that your sins are forgiven.

Psalm 32:1-2 NLT A psalm of David. Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! 2 Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! 

Psalm 32:11 NLT So rejoice in the LORD and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure! 

The disciples came back rejoicing that the demons were subject to them in Jesus’ name. Jesus responded to them,

Luke 10:20 ESV Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” 

Isaiah 12:3 ESV With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation

2. We rejoice knowing that we have a great reward in heaven:

Luke 6:22-23 NLT What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. 23 When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way. 

3. Joy comes not from our own efforts or mental gymnastics. Joy comes from the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23 ESV But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 

The Spirit of God, living in the Christian, produces the joy of God in his heart. We must sow to the Spirit. We must feed on the Word of God. We just seek the face of God.

Ephesians 5:18-19 NLT Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. 

4. Joy comes from belonging to the kingdom of God:

Romans 14:17 ESV For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 

5. Joy comes from believing God. Believing what God says. Believing the promises of God as written in the Word of God:

Romans 15:13 ESV May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. 

6. Joy comes from knowing the reality of our faith. This is not the result of someone’s imagination or vision or dream. The Jesus of history lived and died and rose again. This is how John, one of his disciples, describes him:

1 John 1:1-4 NLT We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. 2 This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy. 

The Apostle Peter

1 Peter 1:8 NLT You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 

True, lasting joy comes from knowing the Savior. Christmas is a message of joy for all people. He came to save all who receive him. He came to fill our hearts with joy, all year long.

See also:

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Christmas and the Uniqueness of Christ

https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7166/6564238977_d1e9a7e166_b.jpgToday I want to talk to you about the greatest miracle that ever took place, and the one that makes Christianity unique and greater than any other religion. We will consider Christmas and the uniqueness of Christ.

Introduction

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This is the time of year when we celebrate Christmas. And what is Christmas? Christmas is the joyful occasion when we remember the birth of Christ, the coming of Christ into the world.

How Christianity Is Different

Christmas is the time when we celebrate and give thanks for the greatest miracle that ever took place. The Bible records many many marvelous miracles that we could consider; many that we have considered. The Bible tells us about…

  • The origin of the universe, how “the universe was created by the word of God” (Hebrews 11:3). God created everything from nothing by speaking it into existence. That was certainly a miracle.
  • It was a miracle that the Israelites crossed the Red Sea as on dry ground.
  • There were the miracles of provision in the wilderness.
  • Many miracles were performed through the ministries of Elijah and Elisha.
  • There were many miracles of healing performed by Jesus so that the lame walked, the deaf heard, the blind saw, lepers were cleansed, and the dead were raised.
  • We could consider the resurrection of Jesus Christ, a truly great miracle that guarantees the future resurrection of believers.
  • We could also consider the virgin birth, and we will consider it, but even the virgin birth is not the greatest miracle that ever took place.

If none of these miracles are the greatest miracle, then what is the greatest miracle? The greatest miracle that ever took place is what we read in the Gospel according to John, chapter 1, verse 14. It is the miracle of the Incarnation:

John 1:14 ESV 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.

The greatest miracle that ever took place is the one that we celebrate each year at Christmas: God became man. The New Living Translation reads like this:

John 1:14 NLT So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

John begins that first chapter of his Gospel by telling us that the Word which became human was none other than God himself:

John 1:1-3 ESV In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

In his introduction to his Gospel, the Apostle John tells us that

  1. “In the beginning, the Word already existed” (John 1:1 NLT).
  2. The Word was with That is, that he was in an active eternal relationship with God.
  3. The Word was The Bislama Bible says it like this: “Tok ya, hem i stap wetem God, mo hem tu i God” (Joh 1:1 BSN)
  4. The Word became “Tok ya I kam man.” God took upon himself humanity. Without ceasing to be what he was, he became what he had not been. Without ceasing to be God, he became a man. He had not been a man, but he became a man. He took upon himself humanity.

A few verses later, John tells us the same thing in different words:

John 1:18 ESV No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

  1. No one has ever seen God. Some men claim to have seen God, but the Bible clearly says that no man has ever seen God the Father.
  2. The one who was with God in the beginning, that is, the one “who is at the Father’s side,” he has made God known.
  3. And how does John describe this one who is at the Father’s side, the one who was with him and has made him known? The Apostle John calls him “the only God.” Listen to the verse again:

John 1:18 ESV No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

John 1:18 BSN I no gat man we i luk God samtaem. Jisas nomo hem i stret pikinini blong God, mo hem i God. Oltaem hem i stap klosap long Papa blong hem, mo hem nomo i soemaot Papa blong hem long yumi.

This is how the Apostle Paul describes it in Philippians 2:

Philippians 2:6-8 ESV [Christ Jesus] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

This then is the greatest miracle, the miracle of Christmas, and the miracle that makes Christianity different from every other religion. Not simply the virgin birth, but the fact that the baby born in Bethlehem was none other than God himself. God in the flesh. God became man and made his home among us. He is the God-man. Fully God and fully man. The founder of Christianity was not merely a man, but God in the flesh. Jesus Christ was fully man, to be sure, but he was also God in the flesh. This is the miracle of Christmas! Without ceasing to be God, God became a man. The babe in the manger was God in the flesh.

Christmas Is Not about the Birth of an Outstanding Person

As we commemorate the birth of Christ, we do not simply celebrate the birth of a child, nor the birth of an outstanding person such as

  • Confucius (551-479 B.C.)
  • Socrates (469-399 B.C.)
  • Plato (424-348 B.C.)
  • Aristotle (384-322 B.C.)
  • Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.)
  • Muhammad (A.D. 570-632)
  • Christopher Columbus (1451-1506)
  • Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
  • Martin Luther (1483-1546)
  • Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727)
  • Louis Pasteur (1822-1895)

No, we are not simply celebrating the birth of some famous person. Nor are we simply celebrating the birth of a man named Jesus. We are celebrating the birth of the Christ. That is why it is called Christ-mas. Any way you want to cut it, Christmas is the celebration of the coming of the Christ into the world. You cannot talk about Christmas without talking about Christ.

The First Coming

We remember and celebrate the first coming of the Christ into the world. The first coming? Yes. Because this same Jesus, Jesus the Christ, will come again. And as we consider world events and the way the prophecies of the Bible are unfolding before our very eyes, we would do well to do what Christ told us to do: to look toward heaven, understanding that the time of Christ’s second coming is drawing nearer every day.

It Was a Coming: Jesus Came from Heaven

Jesus Christ claimed to be sent from God. He told Nicodemus,

John 3:13 NIVO No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven–the Son of Man.

John the Baptist describes Jesus the Christ in John 3:31,

John 3:31 NIVO “The one who comes from above is above all… The one who comes from heaven is above all.

Jesus says of himself…

John 6:38 NIVO For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.

John 6:51 NIVO I am the living bread that came down from heaven

The people were complaining about his teaching. Aware that they…

John 6:61-62 NIVO …were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!

Jesus is not like us. You and I have never been to heaven. We did not come from heaven. We did not exist before we were conceived in the wombs of our earthly mothers. At that moment of conception, we began to exist. At that moment, our human lives began.

— Young lady, that baby in your womb is a human being, created in the image of God. It is not your life; it is the life of a pre-born child. It is sacred. You must cherish it and love it and care for it. —

At the moment of conception, our lives begin. But we had no existence whatsoever before that moment of human conception.

Not so with the Son of God. Before the beginning, the Word was with God. God the Son, the second person of the Godhead, has always existed. Hebrews 7:3 says that he is “without beginning of days.”

Jesus prayed to His Father the night before his crucifixion,

John 17:5 ESV And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

God Prepared a Body for the Son

The Son of God was with the Father, but neither the Father nor the Son had a body.

  • Jesus tells us in John 4:24 that “God is Spirit.”
  • He also tells us very plainly in Luke 24:39 that “a spirit does not have flesh and bones.” That is why the Bible tells us that God is invisible and that no one has seen him at any time. God does not have a body. He is not material; He is Spirit.

It was through the virgin birth that God prepared a body for His Son. This is called the Incarnation, God coming in human flesh. So we read in…

Hebrews 10:5 NLT That is why, when Christ came into the world, he said to God, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings. But you have given me a body to offer.

For what reason would Christ need to come into the world? For what reason would he need a body to offer?

Hebrews 10:10 NLT For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.

Hebrews 10:12 NLT But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time…

Hebrews 10:14 NLT For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.

The Word became flesh. Jesus Christ came into the world to offer himself as a sacrifice for our sins. Christmas points to the cross. Christmas is all about the first coming of the Christ.

The Title Christ

Since Christmas is about the first coming of the Christ, what do we mean when we speak of the “Christ”? First of all, the word “Christ” is not a name; “Christ” is a title. “Christ” is not Jesus’s last name. It is a title like “Prime Minister” or “President” or “Ambassador.” The title “Christ” refers to Jesus the Christ. It is one of his many titles such as

  • The Son of God
  • The Good Shepherd
  • The Great High Priest
  • The King of kings, and
  • The Lord of lords

But just what does Christ mean? Many Christians do not know what the title Christ means. When you ask them what the word “Christ” means, they will give you various answers, like “Son of God” or “Lord” or “Savior.” While Jesus is the Son of God and our only Lord and Savior, and each of these titles refer to Jesus Christ, the word “Christ” does not mean Son of God or Lord or Savior. Jesus is the one and only Son of God; he is the only Lord and Savior, but he is also the Christ.

So what does Christ mean? It means “the anointed one.” The Hebrew language gives us the word “Messiah,” and the Greek language gives us the word “Christ,” but they both mean the same thing. Messiah and Christ both mean “the anointed one.” In the Old Testament, there were three classes of people who were anointed: prophets, priests, and kings. They were anointed as specially prepared anointing oil was poured on their heads to symbolize the empowering of the Holy Spirit to fulfill their ministry.

But throughout the Old Testament, we find promises of the coming Christ, the one who would be anointed of the Holy Spirit, not only as a prophet, or as a priest, or as a king, but as THE Prophet, Priest, and King. He is THE Promised One. He is the one that all Israel was waiting for. He is the one that the world was waiting for. We read about the coming of Christ, the Anointed One, in Matthew 2:

Matthew 2:1-6 ESV Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: 6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.'”

Let’s notice a few things that this passage of holy Scripture teaches us:

  1. Christ was born king. The wise men came asking, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?” Jesus would not become king at a certain age or some time in the future. He was “born king.” That means that by his very nature, Jesus is King. The wise men came from the east to find and worship The One “who has been born king of the Jews.”
  2. The birth of Christ was first announced by a star. The wise men said, “We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” A new book was just published a book in September entitled The Great Christ Comet: Revealing the True Star of Bethlehem. The book has been very favorably received by serious Bible scholars. The birth of Christ was first announced by a star which may actually have been a special comet that God prepared to lead the wise men to the Christ.
  3. The birthplace of the Christ was prophesied 700 years before his birth. Herod the king assembled “all the chief priests and scribes of the people” and “he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.” They told him that the Christ was to be born in Bethlehem of Judah as Micah the prophet had foretold.

Centuries before the birth of Christ, it was already known that he was coming. It had already been prophesied that he would be a ruler. In fact, 700 years before his birth, Isaiah had prophesied,

Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

No other founder of a religion had his birth announced centuries beforehand. The prophets never foretold the birth of Gautama Buddha, or Confucius, or Muhammed. Their births were never announced by a special star. Wise men from the east never came to worship them at their birth. None of them were born kings. None of them were ever give the titles Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, or Christ. None can compare with the incomparable Christ.

But that’s not all. None of them were born of a virgin.

Virgin Birth

Again, 700 years before the birth of the Christ, the prophet Isaiah had declared,

Isaiah 7:14 ESV Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Virgins do not conceive. In the entire history of humanity, from Eve to the present, no virgin has ever conceived. Except one.

Luke 1:26-35 ESV …the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 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, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 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.

Mary was a virgin. She remained a virgin according to Matthew 1:25 “until she had given birth to a son.”

Matthew 1:22-23 ESV All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

Immanuel

The Lord had spoken by the prophet Isaiah 700 years before the birth of Christ that this virgin-born child would be called Immanuel. As Matthew writes his Gospel, he points to the birth of Christ and says, “This is it! All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said by the prophet. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.”

And then, just in case we did not know it, Matthew tells us just what that means: “they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us).” The Apostle Matthew, one of the disciples chosen by Jesus Christ and commissioned to be an apostle, one authorized to tell us what it all means… This Matthew tells us that Jesus would be called Immanuel because Jesus is God with us.

  • Jesus the Christ was not an angel.
  • He was not an archangel.
  • He was not a superman.
  • He was not a created being of any kind.
  • He was God. He was and he is and will forever be God.

No other major world religion claims this of its founder. Christianity distinguishes itself from every other major religion by the very claim that its founder was none other than God himself. No other founder of a world religion claimed to be God.

  • Gautama Buddha never claimed to be God.
  • Muhammed never claimed to be God.
  • Nor did their closest followers claim that these founders were God.

But Jesus the Christ claimed to be God and his followers claimed that he was God manifested in the flesh.

No other founder of a world religion…

  • Claimed to be God
  • No other founder’s birth was prophesied centuries beforehand.
  • No one else was ever born of a virgin.
  • No one else had a star announcing their birth and showing their birthplace.
  • No one else had the visit of wise men from the East who came to worship.
  • No one else had angels announcing the birth.
  • No one else had an angelic choir singing “Glory to God in the highest…”
  • No one else was worshipped by the angels (Hebrew 1:6).
  • No one else was God.

So why would your trust your eternal destiny to anyone else? Why would you follow anyone but Christ?

John 14:6 ESV Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

The angel had said to Joseph,

Matthew 1:21 ESV She [Mary] will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

The apostles declared,

Acts 4:12 ESV And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

1 Timothy 2:5 ESV For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

Turn to him and be saved. I trust that you will have a Christ-filled Christmas as we celebrate the greatest miracle that ever happened: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us…”