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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

“Unto Us a Child is Born…”

Are you ready for Christmas?  That’s a question you and I hear a lot this time of the year.  “I guess I’m ready” is my usual answer.  I know December 25th will soon be here.  We also hear the question asked, “What’s the real meaning of Christmas?”  The simple answer is that Christmas is about Jesus and God’s plan of salvation.  Just what is that plan?

After the fall of man, God immediately instituted his plan of salvation.  Throughout the Old Testament he reminded his followers of the coming of the Messiah.  So strong was the confidence of Adam and Eve that when she gave birth to their first son she said jubilantly, “I have gotten the man that the Lord promised” referring to the promise of the Messiah to come.  Of course, the Messiah had not yet come, but it was the promise of the Messiah that the people of the Old Testament believed in for their salvation.
Repeatedly throughout the Old Testament the prophets reminded the people of the coming of the Savior—the path that God chose for sinful, imperfect people like you and me to reach heaven.  

More than 500 years before the birth of Jesus the prophet Isaiah wrote, 

        “A child will be born to us.  A son will be given to us.  The
         government will rest on his shoulders.  He will be named: 
         Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince
         of Peace.” (9:6-7)

And then in fulfillment of that prophecy, as told in familiar Christmas story of Luke, 

        “At that time the Emperor Augustus ordered a census of the
        Roman Empire.  This was the first census taken while Quirinius
        was governor of Syria.  All the people went to register in the
        cities where their ancestors had lived.  

        So Joseph went from Nazareth, a city in Galilee, to a Judean city
        called Bethlehem.  Joseph, a descendent of King David, went to
        Bethlehem because David had been born there.  Joseph went there
        to register with Mary.  She had been promised to him in marriage
        and was pregnant.

        While they were in Bethlehem, the time came for Mary to have her
        child.  She gave birth to her firstborn son.  She wrapped him in strips
        of cloth and laid him in a manger because there wasn’t any room
        for them in the inn.

        Shepherds were in the fields near Bethlehem.  They were taking
        turns watching their flock during the night.  An angel from the
        Lord suddenly appeared to them.  The glory of the Lord filled the
        area with light, and they were terrified.  The angel said to them,
        ‘Don’t be afraid! I have good news for you, a message that will fill
         everyone with joy.  Today your Savior, Christ the Lord was born
        in David’s city.  This is how you will recognize him:  You will
        find an infant wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.’

        Suddenly, a large army of angels appeared with the angel.  They
        were praising God by saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
        and on earth peace to those who have his good will.’”

God sent his son for you and me so that we might have a path to heaven.  That was and is the depth of his love.  But Jesus’ role in our salvation wasn’t complete just because he was born in Bethlehem.

No, Jesus went on to live the perfect, sinless life that you and I are incapable of and then gave his life up on the cross for our sins.  And finally, the most important part, Jesus rose triumphant from the grave on Easter morning guaranteeing that you and I will rise again too if we only put our confidence and trust in Jesus.

It was and is God’s plan.  That’s what you and I celebrate at Christmas, the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s plan to take us to be with him in a perfect place where there is no anger, no hurt relationships, and no sorrow.  It’s a wonderful plan and the most amazing thing of all is that it is free, absolutely free.  All we have to do is to believe in Jesus.  Nothing else is needed.

My wife, Kathi, and I and our entire family wish you a truly joyous Christmas celebration and many, many blessings in the New Year.

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