Tag Archives: Christ

Carrying Jesus

Standard
Manger Scene (Photo by Ashley Jones)

Manger Scene (Photo by Ashley Jones)

 

Expecting God

 

As we wait expectantly for Christmas, my thoughts turn to Mary and Joseph. I wonder what it was like for them as they waited for their first child to be born, knowing that child was the Son of God. I imagine they would have had a lot of questions:

 

What would Jesus look like?

Would He look fully human, or would He look more like the angel Gabriel – tall with golden skin?

Would He look Jewish?

Would He take after Mary?

 

Would Jesus have special powers?

Would He perform miracles, like heal people and raise the dead?

Would He fly, become invisible, or walk on water?

Would He be super strong or able to run very fast?

Would He need to eat and drink?

Would He feel pain?

 

Would Jesus grow up normally?

Would He grow up like a normal boy, or would He mature quickly?

Would He understand everything going on around Him, even as a baby?

Would He speak as an infant, or learn to speak over time?

Would He learn from Mary and Joseph, or would He immediately begin to teach them?

 

How long would they have Jesus?

Gabriel said He was the Son of God and that He would reign over the house of Jacob forever. Did that mean He would live forever? Or would He disappear from this world and go to be with God?

 

I find it very humbling to think about what it must have been like for Mary and Joseph who found themselves responsible for the most important person in the world, the greatest gift to mankind. I believe the Holy Spirit must have guided Mary and Joseph’s steps every day, giving them comfort and peace about the unknown future. I also like to think that Jesus Himself helped to guide Mary as He grew within her. What strange comfort that must have been!

 

Like Mary

 There are many people throughout the world who venerate Mary, giving her special honor among the saints / Christians. Although I wasn’t raised in that tradition, I can understand it. Mary was so privileged to be the one woman to carry the Christ child! Gabriel himself greeted her as the “favored one.” (Luke 1:28, NAS)

However, it dawned on me today that there is something else going on here that is much bigger than one person. I was thinking about Mary – how she carried the baby Jesus inside her; how He developed over 9 months; and how she delivered Him in a barn because there was no room for them. All of this so that Jesus might live and die for our sins so we can all have a relationship with God.

And then I thought about the rest of us Christians – how the Holy Spirit comes to live inside us when we accept Jesus as our Savior; how His Spirit helps to mature us, giving us guidance and comfort; and how we eventually bear the fruit of the Spirit into a world that does not know Him. And all of this so that we might have a relationship with God and introduce others to Him so they can find salvation in Him, too.

Mary’s miraculous conception of Jesus is an example, a type, a foreshadowing of what we Christians experience today. Just as she carried Jesus, we carry the Holy Spirit. Because of this, we should honor and love each other, as we are all temples of God. (1 Corinthians 6:19)

The miracle of Jesus’ birth over 2,000 years ago is only magnified by our ability to know and serve Him today. As you prepare your homes and hearts for Christmas this week, remember that the story has never ended – it continues even now as folks like you and I carry the message of Jesus throughout the world through His precious Holy Spirit.

Merry Christmas!

The Meaning of Christmas

Standard
Sue_Christmas2011

Our first Christmas with Sue, 2011. She loves Christmas (but not the Santa hat).

 

I admit it: I’m hooked on Christmas movies. I like the sweet, funny, crazy ones, even the low budget ones. I appreciate that they’re wholesome and family-focused, with themes about forgiveness, love, and generosity.

Most Christmas TV shows and movies tell us Christmas is a time for:

  • Gifts
  • Children
  • Forgiveness and second chances
  • Rebirth and renewal
  • Telling the truth
  • Falling in love
  • Being generous with the needy
  • Hope and faith
  • Family traditions
  • Wishes and miracles
  • Christmas spirit.

 

All of this is nice, but it’s incomplete. The truth about Christmas is so much bigger and more meaningful.

 

Words of Meaning

The term “Christmas” comes from “Christ mass,” or a church service in honor of the birth of Jesus Christ.

The word “Christ” is a descriptive title that means “Anointed One” or “Messiah.” The Jews were looking for the promised Messiah, or Savior, for thousands of years because the Old Testament indicated He would come to save them. When Jesus’ followers referred to Him as the Christ, they meant that He was the promised Messiah; He was the Savior they had been looking for.

Even the name Jesus has special meaning. Mary didn’t thumb through baby name books before settling on Jesus. No, an angel of God told her specifically to call Him Jesus (Luke 1:31). Why? Because the name “Jesus” means “the Lord saves.”

Paul said the following to the church in Philippi:

Philippians 2:9-11, NAS  Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

That’s why Jesus is the name above every name – it summarizes the one truth that we should all know and accept: Jesus is Lord, and He saves. Fortunately, He isn’t just the Savior of the Jews; He’s our Savior, too.

 

His Story

The Bible says that Jesus was and is God and that He took the form of a man when He was born of a virgin about 2,000 years ago. He taught people that He came to serve and to save the lost. Jesus then gave Himself up to die on a cross as a sacrifice for our sins – the only sacrifice that could put us right with God the Father. He then raised Himself from the dead three days later so that we might share in His resurrection. Jesus now sits at the right hand of God the Father where He intercedes (prays) on our behalf. (For more on Jesus’ life on earth, you can start with Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John.)

You see, when the story doesn’t include Jesus, it’s not complete. When it’s not centered on Jesus, it’s out of focus. How can we talk about real hope, faith, and forgiveness without talking about the One Who gives us those things? How can we really bless our children if we don’t share with them the real Blessing? What value is there in gifts, if the real Gift isn’t shared?

 

The Line in the Sand

Have you ever wondered why characters in TV and movies talk about everything but Jesus? I’ve even seen movies where the characters actually pray to Santa for miracles. Why not just pray to Jesus, the real God? Why do movie producers go to such lengths to keep Him out of it?

I believe it’s because most people love the trappings of Christmas, but they’re uncomfortable with the real meaning of it. The gospel – the good news of Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection – gives us no wiggle room. We either believe in Jesus and go to Heaven or we don’t. He’s the ultimate line in the sand, and we’re either on one side or the other.

John 14:6, NAS Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.”

For those of us who have accepted Jesus as our Savior, our job is to love God and love our neighbors. Through that love, we can share the hope we have in Jesus with the rest of the world.

 

More than a Day

We can fill our holidays with gifts, Santa Clauses, and reindeer, but we can’t really celebrate Christmas without Jesus the Christ.

But this also means that we can’t limit the spirit of Christmas to one day out of the year. If we believe that Jesus is the Christ, then our hearts should be full of His presence and love throughout the whole year. Christmas should be a reminder to us to be thankful for the gift of our salvation and to be generous as we share the meaning of this gift with others.

Yes, I still love corny Christmas movies, but I keep them in perspective. I remember that Jesus isn’t just the “reason for the season,” He’s the reason for everything.