At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He travelled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Saviour—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” -Luke 2:1-12 NLT
Christmas is about Jesus the baby. For some reason many Christmas cards have Jesus with a halo around his head and soft velvety animals around the manger. It also has three wise men bringing gifts to the new-born. There are a few misconceptions in these images.
First, Jesus didn’t come with a halo alongside Mary and Joseph, if he did many people would recognise him and probably thought there was something strange about him. Isaiah spoke of Jesus being simple and all throughout the New Testament, Jesus is spoken of as being humble. There may have been some cute little animals around Jesus but more than likely the donkey which Mary and Joseph rode on as well as the sheep that were brought with the shepherds. And the greatest misconception are the wise men. We don’t know if there were three of them, we just assume because of the three gifts. It could very well been an entourage of men from Babylon and the east. They arrived in Bethlehem when Jesus was a child more than likely a toddler about 2 years old.
No, I am not trying to disprove the nativity story. Christmas is indeed about the baby Jesus, but more so his incarnation. This is the story of God coming to earth as a human. Christmas is about God’s love stretching beyond heaven’s door to earth. His birth linked all people together, not just Jews. God called the shepherds first to witness this beautiful incarnation. They were of little importance, bottom of the food-chain as far as prestige went. Jesus came as the Saviour to all nations. Thus, the reason the wise men came from the east to worship him. He included the lowest of the low to the richest and most knowledgeable men.
Even as a baby and a child, Jesus created turbulence. His existence caused a stir and demanded a response. People either loved or hated him, accepted his love and try to squash it. Herod tried to get rid of him by murdering all boys 2 and younger (see Matthew 2:13-18), very much like the Pharaoh did when Moses was born. And just like Moses, Jesus was spared because of God’s intervention. Moses was a saviour for the Israelites in the Exodus to the promised land. Jesus came as the Saviour for the whole world.
I know in some parts of the world, Christmas seems to be a swear word. The reason is simple, people are offended by the message of the incarnated Jesus. We will cause offence by just being Christians. This should not come as a surprise to us as Jesus said this was going to happen. People are offended by Jesus because it goes against their selfish desires. Sadly, people hate God even though they don’t even believe exists.
God desires everyone to come to know him as their Lord and Saviour. God wants us to be the bearer of his love. The question I have for us, if we were tried in a court of law, under oath, for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence in our actions and words to convict us?
Jesus is the incarnation of God himself. Give thanks to God for his ultimate gift of love. Spend time today and tomorrow especially, to worship this amazing God. Jesus came to set us free. He came for the rich and the poor. He loves everyone. Christmas is about Jesus- the baby, the incarnation. May He be born in us.
Today’s Prayer is the Lyrics for O Holy Night, don’t just sing it, really read and breathe in the words:
God bless you all. Happy CHRISTmas!
For further study: Matthew 1-2; Luke 1-2
Extra Scripture Readings:
Thank you for joining with me in this journey studying the names and getting to know about Jesus. Today we celebrate Jesus and his incarnation. We celebrate with family and friends, sharing and opening gifts, sharing food and fellowship, taking time to remember the most wonderful gift we could ever receive. Instead of writing a devotion today, I am going to re-share scriptures about Jesus’ arrival. Ponder on these and give thanks to JESUS- the greatest person on earth and in heaven. He is worthy of all our praise.
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. -Isaiah 9:6 NLT
All of this occurred to fulfil the Lord’s message through his prophet: “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.’” –Matthew 1:22-23 NLT
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. –John 8:12
I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which people may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. –John 6:48-51
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the broken-hearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. 2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favour has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. –Isaiah 6:1-2
John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” –John 1:29
On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. –Revelation 19:16
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. –John 1:14
I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star. –Revelation 22:16
Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the centre of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. –Revelation 5:5-6
You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because servants do not know their master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit-fruit that will last-and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. –John 15:14-16
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Song of the living God.” –Matthew 16:15-16
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. –John 10:11
“You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” -John 8:57-58 NIV
Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” –John 11:25-26
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” –John 14:6