Last week I gave you my yearly rant about the commercialization of the holiday we call Christmas. This week I am asking you to think about Christmas - not the decorations or the gifts, but why the first Christmas happened, and it's significance.
What the Bible says about the first Christmas is challenging to believe. Imagine any young woman making the comment, "I am pregnant, but I am still a virgin!" She would be branded as a liar. In the society of the time, Mary would immediately be outcasted and considered by many to be a (insert word for an amoral woman here). When her fiancé denounces any knowledge of the upcoming child, the shame within society will grow.
The Bible does not record any conversations Mary had with anyone about the upcoming birth, other than her talk with Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-56). From the wording of Matthew chapter one, it appears that she did not tell Joseph about her visit from the angel and the child being the Son of God. In the passage, Joseph is trying to decide what to do. There is no indication that he is struggling with anything Mary may have said. (Matthew 1:19).
We do not know how soon after being impregnated by God, Mary travels to visit Elizabeth, but she stays there for three months. Upon her return, she may be showing or soon will be. Whether she tells anyone or not, everyone will quickly know.
In our terminology, Joseph and Mary were engaged. However, unlike American society, engagement in first-century Israel was legally binding. Joseph had three choices. He could allow the marriage to go on as planned; he could divorce Mary because of her presumed infidelity, or he could have her stoned to death because adultery was punishable by death (Leviticus 20:10). Please remember, Joseph is considering what to do. He does not know Mary is still a virgin, and God is about to come to earth in the form of the Babe in the manger.
Now let us consider the two significant claims of the first Christmas.
1. A virgin has a baby.
2. God Almighty, the creator of the universe, comes to earth as a tiny baby.
Even with Mary's impeccable character, seeing her with a belly the size of a basketball, it would still take great faith to believe she had not been with some man along the way. Maybe the reason Mary was silent about her situation is that she had the wisdom to know people would not believe her.
About seven hundred fifty years before Christ's birth, Isaiah prophesied a virgin would have a child. Isaiah 7:14, "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."
The virgin birth is hinted at way back in the book of Genesis immediately after the original sin with Adam and Eve. God refers to "her seed," indicating the offspring of a woman without human male influence (Genesis 3:15).
When the angel comes to Mary to explain what is going to happen, she brings up the fact that she has not been with a man (Luke 2:34).
The purpose of the virgin birth is because sin is passed down through the man. A sinless sacrifice needed to be born to pay for the sins of the world - only God could father such a child (Romans 5:12; 1 Peter 3:18).
Christ is God in the flesh, He is eternal, and the creator of the universe (Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 13:8; 1 John 4:1-3; John1:1-5, 14).
There are many more verses than the ones sited above; the Bible is clear - God came to earth in human form, and He used a virgin to do so.
Why did He come? To save us from our sins, to be the sacrifice for our sins. The Babe in the manger will grow into the Saviour on the cross.
Romans 8:3, "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:"
Galatians 4:4-5, "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons."
Philippians 2:8, "And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
Christmas is a miraculous story because it is a miracle.
Christmas is a love story because it introduces God's loving sacrifice to the world.
Christmas is an everlasting story because lying inside that manger is eternal life.
Have you thought about Christmas lately?
Preacher Johnson is Pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in northern Parke County Indiana. Website: www.preacherjohnson.wordpress.com; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; address: 410 S. Jefferson St. Rockville IN 47872.