It’s not about presents, but presence.
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in the cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.“
“Which were just as they had been told.” Foretold. In fact the story above began generations prior to the birth itself. In fact…people were waiting for it. Expecting it.
The story of Christ didn’t begin here. It began over a thousand years earlier. It’s been an estimated 2011 years (probably a few more) since this event. That’s a long dang time. Moses’ writings were written 1000 years before Christ. So over 3000 years ago this was written. Over a thousand years before this birth people heard about it. Documents. Moses taught it.
“The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.”
Joseph was a direct descendent of Jacob’s son Judah. That’s why the first book of the New Testament starts with the genealogy. A whole ton of names that nobody really wants to read. But right there is your proof. We can cross this foretelling off the list. Mind you this was written up to 1400 years before Christ’s birth.
The prophet Isaiah wrote “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (God with us)”
This was roughly 700 years before the birth of Christ. This existed 700 years before Christ. Check that one off the list as well.
In Micah about 750-686 years before Christ it is written:
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” Where was Jesus born again? Check three.
Around 600 years B.C. Jeremiah 23:5:
“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.”
Again, check Matthew 1. Check four.
Four different prophets in the Old Testament gave actual accounts of the story that we all have come to call “The Nativity Story.”
It was, and is a big deal. People were looking for the Messiah. John The Baptist was constantly asked if he was the one they were waiting for, the one they were expecting. If he was the Messiah. (Matthew 11:3)
These were not characters in a book. These stories exist outside of the Bible. These were real people with real knowledge and expectations of a coming Messiah who would save them from the ways of the world.
John the Baptist would always reply with a variation of “One will come after me who is far greater than I.” John knew.
The book of Mark begins with a quote from the prophecy of Isaiah. (the one written about 700 years prior.)
“I will send my messenger ahead of you who will prepare your way”.
Even John the Baptist was prophesied.
Take a look at one of Jesus’ first teachings. (Some say this is his first teaching.)
“And He was handed the scroll (book) of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.
Then He closed the scroll (book), and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
The prophesies of the past thousand years… fulfilled.
So this holiday of Santa, reindeer, family, friends, decorations, shopping, presents…
What do we celebrate?
There is something more out there. A reason the sky is so beautiful. A reason art is so fascinating. A reason love makes us feel the way it does. A reason we are here.
Everyone on this planet struggles with the “why” of these at some point in their life.
All religions have come out of this knowledge. That there is something more. A reason we are here. Yes, even the big bang theory. Even if you think all of this is an accident, it is just a way of explaining these things. All religions and theories search for this answer. They place it in the explanations that for them made the most sense.
“I bet the Sun is the reason for all of these things.”
And they worship the Sun. All religions formed out of the search to explain this mystery.
But ours, ours explained itself. (Can you even call that a religion?)
We didn’t create the explanation, the explanation created us.
God. showed. up.
“I am.” he said.
“I am the reason for all of this.”
God revealed himself to us. He explained the why to us. God spoke.
He taught Moses the story of our creation.
If you think the things that Moses talked about were just theory or non-literal stories and yet you do believe the things Jesus says, Here is something you will find interesting.
“If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”
God spoke to Moses. Thousands of years before Mary’s birth. God showed up. God spoke. God told Moses about the creation. God told Moses about what he wanted for the world. God told Moses about Jesus. God told Moses about Immanuel.
God. With. Us.
That is what we celebrate. That is Christmas.
God came down. God came to heal the sick. He came to find his lost sheep. God came to save us.
The greatest present we were ever given…was presence.
You don’t have to work your way to God,
God came to you.
He wasn’t some distant God that we had to try and get to. He came to us. He came to bring us life, and life to the full.
God came down.
He came to our world in a filthy stable. He grew up here and walked among us here.
He healed. He taught us what life was meant to be. He sacrificed. He died.
God came down….
Christ died for your mistakes, for your bad ideas, for your mean words, for your messed up life, for your bad relationships, for your hatred, for your greed, for your jealousy, for your lust, for your every sin.
Christ came down to die.
For every bad thing you have done.
For every sin.
And whether you believe in Him or not, it still happened.
And He did it out of love.
And He wants you to realize that love, to recognize that love, to BELIEVE in THAT LOVE.
TO LIVE FOR THAT LOVE.
God loved you so much, that he came down to the world that he gave us, this world that we messed up, and he died so that you could have life. That you could one day be with him. Believe in THAT.
Love came down.
And we celebrate that.
Christmas is about celebrating God coming down to this world and sacrificing his life for ours. He took our death, our sin, and put it on him.
We celebrate THAT gift.
No matter what you believe, no matter how much you doubt if God exists, no matter how much you think you don’t deserve it. God offers you life. God offers you that gift.
Find that life that He offers, and live it to the full.
People love Christmas. Or the Holidays, or whatever you wish to call it.
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
All year we long for the Christmas spirit.
But what is that? Why do we love this time of year?
The Christmas Spirit is when people share love, compassion, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, gentleness, forgiveness, generosity, and grace amongst many things.
The Christmas spirit is when people for a moment act how God intended us to act. Where we live that life of fullness.
This is why you love the holidays… whether you realize it or not.
What does a world with people living how God wanted us to live look like?
Christmas, all year long.
We celebrate the day He came down. The day He came to live amongst us. The day He came from Heaven to Earth to save us. We celebrate Christmas. We celebrate God with us. We celebrate God’s presence.
1 John 4:8 “God is love.”
Love came down.
Receive the gift.