Tuesday, December 19, 2006


What is the meaning of Christmas? You will hear all kinds of explanations during the Christmas season; especially when the Christmas specials come on television. You’ll hear them say, “Christmas is peace on earth.” “Christmas is spending quality time with family.” “Christmas is gathering together good friends and having good times together.” “Christmas is all about community.” “Christmas is children.” People talk about Christmas as if they could attach any kind of meaning to it they want to. Regardless of what the world says, the meaning of Christmas is celebrating the birth of Jesus!

This still leaves us with a very important question. Who is Jesus? The answer you give to that question is the most important answer you will give in your life. If you are going to celebrate Christmas you must answer that question. People can try to ignore it, sidestep it, belittle it, laugh it off, or anything else, but the question is not going to go away! Every person who ever lived will have to answer this question sometime. It is worth our consideration.

Who is Jesus? How will we answer this question? Where do we turn when we want to find out the truth? We can turn to the Bible and we can look for the testimonies of eyewitnesses. Does the Bible actually claim that Jesus was God? Who can we turn to for this information? Mary and Joseph say very little in the gospels. Who else would qualify as eyewitnesses of the birth and life of Jesus? How about the angels? Weren’t they firsthand witnesses? Angels played a major part in Christ’s first coming. Have we ever really listened to their testimony about Jesus’ identity?

Gabriel, perhaps the chief of the herald angels, first came to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist (Luke 1:11-20). He announced the birth of John to Zechariah but Zechariah doubted the message of the angel (v.18). Gabriel’s response is found in verse 19, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.” Because he doubted the word of Gabriel, Zechariah was struck dumb until the birth of his own son. At the very least this demonstrates to us Christians that we must be very careful to accept the testimony of the angels of God. This is the testimony we will now look at.

Luke 1:26 says that God sent Gabriel to Mary and he brought several announcements to her. The first announcement is found in 1:31. Gabriel says Mary “will be with child and give birth to a son.” This is nice to know. It is not earthshaking news. Rather, it is to be expected because Mary is engaged to be married and she is of childbearing age. But the second announcement is puzzling. In 1:32 Gabriel says, “He will be great.” What can this possibly mean? How can this be when Mary and Joseph are both simple and common people? The third announcement is in 1:33, “The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” All Jews were familiar with this covenant which God had made with David but it hadn’t yet come to pass. What’s more, David’s house was not even in power anymore. Rome ruled all of Palestine. And besides, how could her son rule forever? How could any man live long enough to reign forever?

Even though these were shocking announcements, I think they struck a familiar chord with young Mary. They sounded very much like the prophecies of the Promised One! Was it possible? Would her own son actually be the long-awaited Messiah?

Gabriel was not yet finished! The announcement of the coming Messiah was not the end of his mission. Verse 35 contains the announcement that the son of Mary would be the Son of God! He would not be merely a person chosen by God to fulfill some special purpose on earth. He would be no ordinary child! This child would have no earthly father! Mary was a virgin and the Holy Spirit would come upon her and God would work through his Spirit. In other words, Mary would become pregnant miraculously and the child would be holy, sinless, the Son of God. Gabriel was telling Mary that her son would be God come in the flesh! Here is the first clear testimony, brought by one of the host of heaven, as to the character of Jesus of Nazareth. What shall we do with his testimony?


At 8:41 AM, Blogger Doulos Christou said...

What? A Christmas post from a pastor that actually talks about Jesus and calls people to do something about it??

Thank you!!


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