Christmas is that wonderful time of the year when we pause from all our hectic activities to celebrate the birth of Jesus, God’s Son. What was God’s purpose in sending Jesus to this earth? It was to rescue us. Why do we need rescuing? What do we need to be rescued from?
Well, God has created heaven, a perfect place, with no squabbling, no anger, no pain, no disagreements, no relationship problems, no money worries, or any other problems. It is a place of peace and happiness. Sounds great, right?
But, there’s a problem. I hate to tell you, but you’re not perfect. Neither am I, or any other man or woman that has ever lived. It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? We all fail, do bad things, think bad thoughts, and just plain sin. God is blunt about it. He says, “Because all people have sinned, they have fallen short of God's glory.” (Romans 3:23) And, “Certainly, there is no one so righteous on earth that he always does what is good and never sins.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20) We are all in the same boat when it comes to righteousness before God. We stink.
The question is how do we imperfect human beings get to spend our next life in a perfect place? If we place imperfect people in a perfect heaven, it’s no longer perfect. That’s where Jesus comes in. Jesus was born in a manger in Bethlehem in very humble circumstances, and for 33 years he lived the perfect life that you and I cannot live. Finally, he took all our shortcomings, and failures—our sins—on himself as he went to the cross and died for us. But, he wasn’t finished. He rose victorious from the grave to send you and me a strong, clear message that death is not the end, it really is the beginning our life in heaven with Jesus. All he asks of us is to believe in Jesus as our savior and to acknowledge our failures, shortcomings, sins, and thus our need of a savior. In Ephesians 2:8 & 9 he says this very clearly… “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast.”
And, did you know that the birth and life of Jesus was precisely forecast hundreds of years before it happened? The Book of Isaiah was written between 701 and 681 years before the birth of Jesus. This is what Isaiah wrote in Chapter 7, verse 14…
“So the Lord himself will give you this sign: A virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and she will name him Immanuel [God is with us].”
There are many miracles recorded in the Bible, but of all of them, Jesus’ virgin birth and his resurrection from the dead are the two greatest and two most important. Upon these two miracles hang all our hopes of passing through the portal of death to our next life in heaven. That is why Christmas is celebrated and why it is so important.
This is how God describes the time leading up to the birth of Jesus in the Book of Luke…
The Angel Gabriel Comes to Mary
“26Six months after Elizabeth [the mother of John the Baptist] had become pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee. 27The angel went to a virgin promised in marriage to a descendant of David named Joseph. The virgin’s name was Mary.
28 When the angel entered her home, he greeted her and said, “You are favored by the Lord! The Lord is with you.” 29She was startled by what the angel said and tried to figure out what this greeting meant. 30The angel told her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. You have found favor with God. 31You will become pregnant, give birth to a son, and name him Jesus. 32He will be a great man and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33Your son will be king of Jacob’s people forever, and his kingdom will never end.” 34Mary asked the angel, “How can this be? I’ve never had sexual intercourse.” 35The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come to you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy child developing inside you will be called the Son of God. 36“Elizabeth, your relative, is six months pregnant with a son in her old age. People said she couldn’t have a child. 37But nothing is impossible for God.” 38Mary answered, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let everything you’ve said happen to me.” Then the angel left her.
Mary Praises God
46Mary said, “My soul praises the Lord’s greatness! 47My spirit finds its joy in God, my Savior, 48because he has looked favorably on me, his humble servant. “From now on, all people will call me blessed 49because the Almighty has done great things to me. His name is holy. 50For those who fear him, his mercy lasts throughout every generation. 51“He displayed his mighty power. He scattered those who think too highly of themselves. 52He pulled strong rulers from their thrones. He honored humble people. 53He fed hungry people with good food. He sent rich people away with nothing. 54“He remembered to help his servant Israel forever. 55This is the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and his descendants.” 56Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back home.
Jesus Is Born
1At that time the Emperor Augustus ordered a census of the Roman Empire. 2This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All the people went to register in the cities where their ancestors had lived. 4So Joseph went from Nazareth, a city in Galilee, to a Judean city called Bethlehem. Joseph, a descendant of King David, went to Bethlehem because David had been born there. 5Joseph went there to register with Mary. She had been promised to him in marriage and was pregnant. 6While they were in Bethlehem, the time came for Mary to have her child. 7She 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.
Angels Announce the Birth of Jesus
8Shepherds were in the fields near Bethlehem. They were taking turns watching their flock during the night. 9An angel from the Lord suddenly appeared to them. The glory of the Lord filled the area with light, and they were terrified. 10The angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid! I have good news for you, a message that will fill everyone with joy. 11Today your Savior, Christ the Lord, was born in David’s city. 12This is how you will recognize him: You will find an infant wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13Suddenly, a large army of angels appeared with the angel. They were praising God by saying, 14“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those who have his good will!” 15The angels left them and went back to heaven. The shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see what the Lord has told us about.” 16They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph with the baby, who was lying in a manger. 17When they saw the child, they repeated what they had been told about him. 18Everyone who heard the shepherds’ story was amazed. 19Mary treasured all these things in her heart and always thought about them. 20As the shepherds returned to their flock, they glorified and praised God for everything they had seen and heard. Everything happened the way the angel had told them.”
This news of the birth of Jesus is the best news I will ever hear and it is the best news that you will ever hear. Have a wonderful, joyous Christmas celebration!