In this Tree of Life, we are going to continue to give thanks to God for His indescribable gift. 2CO 9:15 “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”
            God’s indescribable gift: The gift of His uniquely born Son. God’s indescribable, unspeakable generosity came in the form of an infant, in a cradle, being rocked by His mother, in a stable in Bethlehem. Mary rocked Him, and later, He rocked the world, perhaps it might be time for Him to rock your world once again. LUK 7:16 “And fear gripped them all, and they {began} glorifying God, saying, ‘A great prophet has arisen among us! and, God has visited His people!’” We celebrated a holiday this past week which is a reminder to all of us that God has visited His people! What a surprise it must have been for those who were there on that first Christmas day.
            When we think of Christmas, we think of surprises. We give and receive gifts which are wrapped, and are usually a surprise to the recipients. That the first Christmas was full of surprises, in fact, what was the first Christmas Eve like? Was it a time of great celebration? Look at LUK 2:1-7, “Now it came about in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all were proceeding to register for the census, everyone to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register, along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. And it came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
            At this time Bethlehem was a very busy place. In fact, the next day was filled with noise and the activity began earlier than usual in the village. As the night gave way to the morning, people were already on the streets. Vendors were positioning themselves on the corners of the most heavily traveled avenues in Bethlehem. Store owners were unlocking the doors to their shops. The owner of the inn probably had awakened earlier than most in the town, after all, the inn was full. We might wonder if anyone mentioned the arrival of the young couple the night before? We might wonder if anyone had commented on the pregnancy of the pregnant girl who was on the donkey the night before? We are told in JOH 1:11 “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.” The city was rejoicing and prospering and celebrating, so who had time to care about the condition of the couple who arrived the night before with the woman pregnant? Everybody was too busy, just as many people are this time of year.
            So, the day was upon them. There was too much to do to imagine that the miracle had occurred: That God had entered the world as a baby. Think of it, if someone by chance had come upon the sheep’s stable on the outskirts of Bethlehem that morning, what a bizarre scene they would behold. A more humble and lowly place of birth could not exist, off to one side sat a group of shepherds. They sat silently on the floor, no doubt in amazement. Their night watch had been inter­rupted by an explosion of light from heaven and a symphony of angels calling them to the stable.
LUK 2:8-15, And in the same region there were {some} shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this {will be} a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” And it came about when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds {began} saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.”
            Think of the fact that near the young mother sat the weary father. If anyone is weary, he is. Now that the excitement has subsided a bit, now that Mary and the baby are comfortable, he leans against the wall of the stable and feels his eyes grow heavy. Joseph hasn’t figured it all out quite yet. After all, he needed a special visitation from an angel to tell him to still marry Mary because she had become pregnant by the Holy Spirit. He remembers the name the angel told him to use, MAT 1:21 “And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.” Mary certainly must have looked into the face of the baby, and there saw her son, and her Lord. In fact, in LUK 1:47 she said, “And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” Somehow Mary knows she is holding God. So this is Him, she contemplates. She remembers the words of the angel in LUK 1:33 “and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end.” However, He looks like anything but a king. He is still a helpless baby who is dependent upon Mary for his well-being. Here is the Majesty in the midst of the mundane. Here is Divinity entering the world on the floor of a stable, through the womb of a teenager and in the presence of a carpenter. He would say in MAT 8:20 “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” This baby who is the overseer of the universe didn’t have a normal place to be born. His golden throne room had been abandoned in favor of a dirty sheep’s pen.
            Meanwhile, the city goes on. Life goes on. Even today people miss out on the real meaning of Christmas. The merchants are unaware that God has visited His people and their planet. The innkeeper would never believe that he had just sent God into the cold. Most people would scoff at anyone who told them the Messiah lay in the arms of a teenager in a dirty stable. Everyone was too busy to consider the possibility. Those who missed the Majesty’s arrival that night didn’t miss it because of evil acts or malice; they missed it because they were simply too busy and weren’t looking. Little has changed in the last two thousand years.
            This Christmas, in the year of our Lord 2007, has a lot in common with the first Christmas when our Lord was born into the world. On the very first Christmas Eve, the earth was oblivious as to what was happening. Much to occupied with unimportant things to see that which was truly important! So engrossed in their own lives and preoccupied with vanity and emptiness! However, heaven wasn’t! The innumerable Holy and elect angels were all waiting in anticipation! They were waiting to break forth in praise, worship and adoration to the birth of a new born child, the Son of God! A child that meant that God had fulfilled His word and sent forth His child for salvation! A fulfillment of ISA 9:6For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us.” On that first Christmas Eve there was also a farewell going on in heaven, the Son said goodbye to the Father. In fact, a part of that conversation is recorded for us in the tenth chapter of Hebrews. HEB 10:5-7, “Therefore, when He comes into the world [this is the first Christmas], He says, ‘Sacrifice and offering Thou hast not desired, But a [human] body Thou hast prepared for Me; In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou has taken no pleasure.’ Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come (In the roll of the book it is written of Me) To do Thy will, O God.’” So the Lord Jesus Christ bid farewell to His Father and began a journey that was to end 33 years later on the cross!
            Now, what was the meaning and purpose of the first Christmas? The physical body of Christ was divinely prepared by God the Father and God the Holy Spirit as the vehicle to bring God to mankind, and to be the perfect sacrifice for sin, and while this was going on, earth was oblivious to it. God was here in the flesh, Heaven knew about it, earth didn’t. There so many things about Christmas that the majority of people today sadly know nothing about. The Holy Spirit had taken ninth months to fashion inside of Mary a physical body which would be perfectly prepared for our Lord. The only human body to be born into this world without a sin nature! A body that was to be inhabited by the second person of the Trinity. The fullness of time had come when God would send forth His very own Son as GAL 4:4 teaches.
            As we consider the Babe of Mary this Christmas season, we should also consider Deity of Jesus Christ and the fact that He is God. This is important because we are told in JUD 1:3 “I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” There are many super grace heroes in the Christian life, but only one true celebrity, the Lord Jesus Christ. Think of it, the same one who was equal to the Father and the Spirit and occupied the highest place of deity was made flesh and dwelt among us (JOH 1:14).
            Why did Jesus Christ, who was God and is God, dwell among us? 2CO 8:9 says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” Who is this Son of God that we love and desire to learn so much about? ISA 9:6His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” He is called the eternal Father. He whose name inISA 9:6 is wonderful was spit upon by men. He who is called counselor is rejected by men. He who is the mighty God was crucified in weakness. He who is the prince of peace must suffer Himself the Divine indignation and wrath of God. He who created all things (COL 1:16) occupied an infant’s cradle. He who is holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners (HEB 7:26), was made to be sin on behalf of all of us. He who was the bread of life (JOH 6:35), was Himself hungry. He who was the giver of the super natural water of life (JOH 4:14), was Himself thirsty. He who was dead (REV 1:18), is alive forevermore.
            JOH 1:3 “All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” There was not anything made apart from Jesus Christ. Yet in JOH 1:10 “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.” Just like many today, still do not know Him. The point is that Jesus Christ had glory with the Father before the creation. However, He stripped Himself of that glory to become a servant. Perhaps it’s time for you to wake up and realize how much God values your soul. A time to do as HEB 12:2 tells us, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” You were the joy set before Him that allowed Him to endure the Cross and despise the shame. Your soul was so valuable to Jesus Christ that He did not consider the use of His Deity a treasure to be retained, but instead He added on this human nature and voluntarily restricted the independent function of His attributes of Deity during His First Advent.
            Think of all God has done. He created a perfect world and placed man in it, and man rebelled. Then He came Himself and paid the price for man’s sin, man still rebelled. He promises man eternal life, a perfect environment, eternal happiness, and yet man still rebels. What more can He do? He gives us a book, and reveals Himself through it’s words, man still rebels through rationalization. There are always people who will say that faith is something that must be entirely divorced from evidence. However, faith is believing in something or someone on the basis of evidence and then acting upon it. The Gospel of John provides evidence of the Deity of Jesus Christ. So what do you think of Jesus Christ? Who is He? According to Christianity this is the most important question you will ever face. It is important because it is inescapable. You will have to answer it sooner or later in this world or in the world to come. Who is Jesus Christ? If He was only a man, then you can safely forget him. If He is God, as He claimed to be, then you should yield your life to Him.
            Now, what does it matter to say that Jesus Christ is God? Well first of all, to say that Jesus Christ is God is to say that we can know the truth about God and that we can know what God is like. In fact, apart from Jesus Christ, we really cannot know God. There is no knowledge of God apart from a knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. JOH 1:18 “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” There is no knowledge of Christ apart from the knowledge of the Bible and the doctrine contained there. The second practical application of the truth that Jesus Christ is God is that God was always like Jesus. Sometimes we tend to think of God as just, and holy and stern and that the Lord Jesus Christ is someone who is a little more forgiving. However, our Lord opened a window, in time, so that we might see the eternal and unchanging love of God. Thirdly, because Jesus Christ is God it means that He is available and able to satisfy all the needs of your heart. God is infinite and He has inexhaustible resources.
            Why did John write the Gospel of John? Look at JOH 20:31 “but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” The word believe means that you may be convinced that Jesus Christ is God. It implies a belief revealed by a volitional surrender. As a matter of fact, we really never believe anything until we surrender ourselves to it. Every Christmas season we stop and rather mindlessly acknowledge the birth of Christ! The real issue is not that He came, the issue is why He came! Most people stop and think about Christmas just as the fact that He came, but they never bother to find out why He came! Why did He come? Why was He born? To present God? The answer is yes! To teach truth, fulfill the law, reveal love? Again the answers are all yes! However these are all secondary reasons as to why He came! There is really only one primary reason. Jesus Christ came into the world on that first Christmas for this one major reason: To suffer and to die for you! MAR 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” When we think of Christmas, we think of giving! However, do we actually think about the real gift that God the Father gave to everyone of us? JOH 3:16, is the plan of God in miniature, “God loved the world so much that He gave His uniquely-born Son, that whosoever believes in Him should never perish but have eternal life.” In the eyes of the Father, this scene at Bethlehem slams right into another scene at Golgotha.
The bottom line is this: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.
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