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CHRISTMAS 4--GOD'S Solution
Christmas is the celebration of the first step of the greatest event in history, which is best understood in its broader context.
The Lord God Almighty, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, united in one in the mystery of the Holy Trinity, one God, created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them, including a man and woman made in God's own image. Those first humans chose to disobey God. Because God is good and the source of all goodness, this rebellion against Him and His goodness introduced evil into the world as well as making sin a part of human nature. God, in His unchanging unity of goodness, love, holiness, justice, and wisdom, cannot and will not tolerate evil. However, God still loved these humans made in His own image to be His friends and companions, so over time He set the stage for His solution to human sin and evil. He developed a tribe into a nation of His people, and He inspired the book of His written Word. His changeable people often disappointed Him, but the Word is His unchanging Truth. When the time was right, when His people were a nation within a huge empire with the best of roads, relative safety for travel, and one language, He set in motion His plan by which He took upon Himself the death which was the consequence of human rebellion and thereby provided a means by which humans could be reconciled to their God.
When we celebrate Christmas, we are celebrating the first step in God's plan for human reconciliation with Himself. Within a willing young virgin, God the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit, became a tiny human embryo in her womb. Certainly, the God who created everything could easily perform this miracle, for with God all things are possible. Gabriel, God's angelic messenger, gained her consent and provided the explanation her betrothed husband needed in order to proceed with the marriage. God the Son, Jesus, had the genetic heritage of His mother Mary, a descendant of King David, but as a relative of Elizabeth may also have been of priestly descent. However, in Israel, the legal line of descent came through the father, so Jesus had the legal inheritance of His step-father or adoptive father, Joseph, who was from the kingly line of David's son Solomon. These are among the details that are relevant in light of the prophecies given in God's Word hundreds of years before His birth.
When we consider the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, whether Mary actually walked it or rode a donkey, it's kind of, "Duh! Of course she was in labour by the time the journey ended." Hence Jesus, God Incarnate, was born in Bethlehem, in a stable because there was no room for them at the inn. If it was a dirty stable, that would be very unpleasant, but considering the concern for cleanliness in the Biblical laws, it may well have been a well kept stable which would have been more pleasant and private than the crowded common-room at the inn where all the travelers would have slept together. Can you imagine what it would have been like to have a baby in a room where every bit of space was occupied?
Jesus was born in humility in a stable among the animals He created, and His birth was announced by angels to shepherds who were at the very bottom of the social pecking order of the time. A star announced His birth to "the Wise Men," scholars and/or kings from a distant land, possibly Persia. Thus, His birth was celebrated and He was worshipped by those at both ends of the social hierarchy, the lowliest and the highest, by God's own people and by Gentiles.
The birth of Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, God Incarnate, would have little meaning without the rest of the story. In Jesus we have the God-Man, the perfect human image of God the Son, so His life on earth shows us how God did live an earthly human life, shows us how God thinks human life should be lived. Most importantly, He came to take upon Himself the consequences for the sins of the whole human race, "for the wages of sin is death." (Romans 6:23 NIV) On the cross of Calvary, Jesus died in your place, in my place, in the place of every person who ever lived, then rose again to life to prove that He was all that He said He was. When we repent of our disobedience and rebellion against God, we are washed clean by His blood, credited with His righteousness, given eternal life with Him, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. We become part of the Kingdom of God, and our physical death becomes like a birth from one phase of life to another. We enter into a personal love relationship with God which gives us great joy and a strong desire to please Him. What a wonder to know that God's love is so great that if you or I or any other one person were the only person who would ever believe in Jesus Christ and accept salvation through Him, He would still have been born, lived His life. died on the cross, and risen again for only that one.
Jesus is the greatest event of all history, and His birth has so much significance only because of His subsequent crucifixion and resurrection. On the other hand, His crucifixion and resurrection could not have happened without His Incarnation, His birth. This one historic event is like one great drama in four acts: Jesus' birth, His life, His crucifixion, and His resurrection. This Christmas, may each and every one of us draw near in humble adoration and praise for the greatest gift ever given, the one and only way to reconciliation with our Lord God Almighty through the finished work of Jesus Christ, and the joy of the most important birth of all!
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