In those days in Israel, the people’s heart were turned away from the Lord. There was a man named Simeon, a good man, who lived in the prayerful expectancy of help for Israel. God had showed him in a vision that He would raise a Messiah. However, the devil kept taunting him, telling him no such thing would happen. Still, God assured Simeon He had a plan.
In Heaven, God had a very important meeting with the elders and angels. He asked, “Who shall I send and who will go for us?” Heaven was totally silent. Everyone understood the implication of that question… Then Jesus came forward, “Here I am. Send me!” The father placed his hand on Jesus and smiled. “Yes son. This is my will.”
Not long after, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth in Galilee with a message for a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to Joseph from the family of David. Mary was deeply confused by the angel’s message. How could it be? Could she really have a child being a virgin? And why her? And what would people say? Would Joseph understand? Mary considered all these and finally said, “I am the Lord’s servant! Let it happen as you have said.” Then the angel left.
The devil was raging mad when he discovered God’s plan. It was just too good a plan. He could just imagine what the earth would be like if the son of God decided to come down. Besides, that would mean losing his rule on earth… It wasn’t going to happen, not under his watch!
“I can’t believe you would disgrace us in this manner… Just a few more weeks and you would have been married. Why did you decide to bring shame on us?” Mary’s mother wept bitterly.
“You had better tell us who’s responsible and stop that ridiculous tale of seeing an angel.” Mary’s father screamed in her face. “Why would an angel appear to you? Have you ever heard of a virgin getting pregnant? You think you’re talking to a child, right? You’d better start talking Mary.”
Mary was confused. Why didn’t they believe her? Fine, it was really unbelievable and unthinkable, quite impossible really but they ought to believe her, she was their daughter, after all.
It was in this atmosphere Joseph met his fiancee and her family. After a series of questions, he found out the unthinkable… Pregnant? The word rocked his world. It couldn’t be. Why would she betray him in such a way? What’s worse was, her eyes pleaded for understanding and compassion. Unable to take it all in, Joseph dashed out of the house.
It was several days before Joseph appeared at Mary’s house. He had decided to quietly call off the wedding in order not to further embarrass her. But while he was thinking about it, the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Joseph, the baby that Mary will have is from the Holy Spirit. Go ahead and marry her. Then after her baby is born, name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Joseph told Mary’s parents that he was going to marry her as planned. They were astounded. “Why?” Her father asked. “Cause she’s telling the truth.” Mary looked dumbfounded. “How’d you know Joe?”
Joseph turned loving eyes to her. “I know because the angel of the Lord also appeared to me.” Mary‘s father couldn‘t stand anymore of the absurd tale. He stomped out, as well as his wife. Mary wept with relief on Joseph’s shoulders. He held her and soothed her.
Joseph and Mary had been traveling from Galilee to Bethlehem in Judea because of a census that the Roman Emperor, Augustus had ordered. While they were there, Mary went into labor and gave birth to her first born son in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.
Some shepherds came to worship him. They had seen an assembly of angels rejoicing because the Savior was born. Wise men from the East also came to worship him. Having seen his star, they came bearing gifts.
The devil was so angry. He instigated Herod to search for the child and kill him, thereby destroying God’s plan of redemption. But God, always ahead of Satan, instructed Joseph saying, “Get up! Hurry and take the child and his mother to Egypt! Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is looking for the child and wants to kill him.”
Herod instructed his men to kill all the boys who lived in or near Bethlehem and were two years old and younger. It was a devastating time in Bethlehem but Jesus was spared.
When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple to dedicate to the Lord, the Spirit of God told Simeon to go into the temple. Simeon took the baby Jesus in his arms and praised God.
This Jesus, who was fully God, came to the earth to live. He became a man and walked the earth. He, who was the son of God, was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried. It was our sins that ripped and tore and crushed him. He took our punishment and made us whole. He was beaten, he was tortured. He died without a thought to his own welfare. All for you and I! And He’s risen to give us new life and hope!
Hurray! It’s Christmas! But Christmas isn’t symbolic of the decorations, the holidays, the good food, the gifts, the carols and yeah, Santa Claus.
We celebrate Christmas because at a time when the whole world was shrouded in darkness and the devil was ruling over man, God, in his love sent his only son, Jesus, to come into the world as a man, born to ordinary people, to die and redeem us to God.
Therefore, Jesus is the reason for the season. And more than the exchange of gifts, we should share the love of Jesus this season.
But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid! I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be for all people.” (Luke 2:10).
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!