Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Christmas Story

1 This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah (Christ), a descendant of David and of Abraham: . . . 18 This is how Jesus the Messiah (Christ) was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, her fiancĂ©, was a good (righteous) man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. 20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through His prophet: 23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a Child! She will give birth to a Son, and they will call Him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” 24 When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25 But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named Him Jesus. Matthew 1:1, 18-25 (NLT).

The Gospel writer Matthew begins his Gospel by proving that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah to bring salvation to all people, worldwide (Matthew 1:21).  The promise of God’s salvation began as early as Genesis 3:15 of the Old Testament with the Original Sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  This promise of salvation continued with Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 22:18; Matthew 1:1); Jacob and Judah (Genesis 49:1-2, 8-11); Moses at Mount Sinai (Exodus 20), the Jesus’ star (Numbers 24:17); King David (2 Samuel 7:16; Matthew 1:1), and the prophets (e.g., see Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 8:8, 10; Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 11:1-5; Jeremiah 31:5; Daniel 2:44; Daniel 7:13-14; Hosea 11:1; Micah  5:2; Zechariah 9:10). The people continued to anticipate God’s salvation even after 400 years of silence with the last Old Testament prophet, Malachi (Malachi 4:15; Luke 3:15).

Over the years, many false figures came and went, who claimed to be the Messiah. Yet, these false figures never received a heavenly announcement. However, the arrival of salvation through the birth of the Baby in Bethlehem did not go unannounced.  The heavenly angels (Luke 2:8-14), shepherds (Luke 2:15-20), the wise kings (Matthew 2: 1-12), Simeon (Luke 2:25-35), and Anna (Luke 2:36-40) all came and worshiped God’s arrival to earth in the Person of Jesus Christ (John 1:14). Finally, the true Messiah had arrived!  Once again, God had faithfully kept His promises to the world (see also Joshua 23-24). God is a promise keeper!

Jesus the Messiah is a descendant of Adam (the father of all people), Abraham (the father of all Jews), and a direct royal descendent of King David (Matthew 1:1, 6; Luke 3:23-38). Most important, Jesus is the biological and natural Son of God (Matthew 1:18-23; Matthew 2:15; Mark 1:1) while Joseph is His stepfather or legal father of earth. Mary conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit and not by human means (Matthew 1:18, 20). Thus, Jesus is both human and God – a human mother, Mary, and a Divine Father. Jesus had a righteous and just stepfather with Joseph. Joseph always did what was pleasing in the eyes of God and he faithfully obeyed God’s guidance (Matthew 1:16-25; Matthew 2:14-15). Even more, Joseph trained Jesus in the trade of carpentry and to follow His true Father, the living God of Israel (Deuteronomy 5:26; Luke 2:41). 

God sent Jesus to earth because He loves us (John 3:16), and He wants to save humanity from their sins. Jesus means "the LORD saves" (Matthew 1:21) and this salvation is available to all who simply believe and trust in God through Jesus. Moreover, Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua (Yeshua).  Christ (or Christos) is Greek for Messiah, which means “Anointed One.” Christ is Jesus’ title and His mission is the Savior of the world (Matthew 1:21). Also, Jesus is called Immanuel, meaning "God with us." Jesus was and continues to be present with those who trusts in Him as their Savior through the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:23; see also Isaiah 7:14; John 1:14; Acts 1:1-8). Amazingly, the Gospel writer Matthew ends his Gospel by commissioning everyone to tell the Good News of Jesus’ salvation to all people, worldwide (see also Matthew 28:16-20).  So, go tell everyone that Jesus the Savior has been born!

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