Christmas Eve 2020

Jesus is vaguely familiar to most people, yet there's so much about Him which mystifies us.

 

Centuries before His birth, God spoke through Micah and promised that Jesus would arrive in a small hill town called Bethlehem which just happens to be the royal city of David where Samuel anointed him as king,

 

Micah 5:2 But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.

 

Jesus is no ordinary person. Even the simplest words chosen to describe Jesus mystify us.

 

What's familiar in this prophecy? It's that Jesus will be born in Bethlehem. But what's mysterious? We're told He's been around forever, He's been active since the days of eternity.

 

This is what John's Gospel has told us for the past few Sundays,

 

John 1:1 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… 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelled among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

Even the most simple words to describe Jesus are really quite perplexing.

 

Note the irony—we are talking about Someone who is immortal and eternal, yet tomorrow morning we will celebrate the day of His birth.

 

So we're talking about a Person who has "no beginning and no end" yet we know the village where Jesus was born, which sounds like a definite beginning, and we certainly know the way that He died.

 

Even more perplexing, the writers pen Jesus' entry into the world as both a birth AND a manifestation. So a Child was born to us yet when He was born God manifest Himself to us. The Word became flesh and dwelled among us.

 

The apostle Paul tells us Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God. All of this is so incredible, yet it fulfills what was promised centuries before,

 

Isaiah 7:14 … Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.

 

In Hebrew, Immanuel means "God with us." While Jesus wasn't properly named Immanuel, this is precisely who Jesus was, God with us. For as long as Jesus was here, God was with us.

 

As incredulous as it sounds, it makes wonderful sense for the theme of the Bible is not "God alone" or "Man alone" but "God and man in relationship together."

 

Not because we loved God, but God first loved us. And you only love what delights you; well, you are loved by God. Made for relationship.

 

We of all beings have the capacity and every reason to trust and worship God. Yet something in us resists Him. We're pretty messed up that way.

 

But long ago we tried to cut ties with God and we set out to do our own thing. But the reality is the things we pursue cannot fulfill us (not because they're all bad, but they simply cannot fulfill us); yet we want what we want. That's mankind.  

 

But God knows us and loves us anyway. And love goes to crazy lengths. I mean Jesus didn't come here to sing Christmas carols. He came because God loves us and we went astray. Again, the Bible is not just about a holy God and imperfect people, but a holy God and imperfect people in relationship.

 

This theme of "God and man" informs how we read Gabriel's words to Mary's fiancé when he heard she was pregnant and thought she'd been unfaithful,

 

Matthew 1:20 … An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. [Again everything we read about Jesus is kind of familiar yet very mysterious. Joseph, there's no other man involved; the child she's carrying is from God. In fact, it's God in her developing human organs, human nature. So Joseph] 21 She will bear a Son and you shall call His name Jesus ["Salvation"], for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the LORD through the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call His name, Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”

 

In one of the hardest years that this nation has faced in a long while, the loss of life, children unable to attend school, churches deemed nonessential, and so many lives and businesses boarded up, we celebrate this Child who has come as a light shining in the darkness.

 

Jesus is the revelation of God's love, and the Savior given to those who don't deserve Him but desperately need Him.

 

Before you go on to the next blog or website, read and reflect on these two passages.

 

1 Timothy 1:15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance [deserving your trust], that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.

 

This is God's heart: for God and man to be in relationship together.

 

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him may not perish but have eternal life.