Matt 1:18-23 (NIV)
18 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All of this occurred to fulfil the Lord’s message through his prophet:
23 “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.’”
Let’s now compare that Bible passage of Christmas with our human idea or concept of Christmas.
- I will read the words of a song focused more on a guy called Santa and a celebration that people have called Xmas to keep the above (Jesus) guy out of it
- Human idea and Human focused.
Santa Claus is coming to town – written by John Coots and Haven Gillespie, but made famous by Mariah Carey.
You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout I’m telling you why Santa Claus is comin’ to town. Santa Claus is comin’ to town. Santa Claus is comin’ to town.
He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice, he’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice.
He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.
So you better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is comin’ to town. Santa Claus is comin’ to town. Santa Claus is comin’ to town.
I am so glad Jesus is the basis for my Christmas and not Santa and Xmas without Christ.
- I am so glad because I think Jesus and Santa are very different and I am glad for it
- I want Jesus in my world and life.
Let me tell you why.
- Rather than trying to be good enough and hide our faults, Jesus came knowing them and with a desire to save us from them!
In the Bible Passage I see two amazing parts to the Christian Christmas message of Jesus in two of the phrases:
- “For He will save His people from their sins”
- “…and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God with us.’”
- I think in a way when we feel God is going to ‘fine us and throw the book at us’, or like Santa – you better watch out, we have misunderstood Him
- He is waiting to come and save us, not fine us.
Christmas happened so that we could be saved from our sins.
- The reason the Angels sang ‘Glory to God in the Highest, Peace and Goodwill toward mankind’ was not because of a future public holiday, but the freedom from our sin.
This is perhaps one of the confronting parts of the Christian message, but it doesn’t have to be.
No one wants to own up to something if it means they will be:
- Unfairly judged
- Held hostage to it.
These are common responses from people, or humans at times when someone is found to have done wrong.
Therefore when the Bible declares us ‘all sinners’ we would like to:
- Deny it
- Fight it
- Say we are not that bad
- Ignore it.
Pretty much we do anything to avoid the: shaming, mistreatment, unfair judgment, punishment and being held ransom to it.
- We don’t want a fine
- And we don’t want God to make a list and check it twice on us.
But that is why Christmas should bring rejoicing because the message of Christmas is that Jesus came, not to do any of those human responses, but to save us from it.
To refuse to admit our struggle with sin is just plain crazy!
- It’s there for everyone to see!
- We should all, with an honest and reasonable self reflection, see our propensity toward self at the cost of others
- We should be able to see it when we look back at some of the failures we all carry.
It’s not hard to see we are far from perfect, but God didn’t come to point it out, but to save us from it.
To give us a new way of living no longer under the bondage of self and the things within that bring:
And so much more!
The Christmas is a message that Jesus came to bring:
When we understand this then it doesn’t have to be hard. So to admit my need for Him is not hard, nor is it so terrifying to admit my need for Him when I know why He has come.
Then His name also is such a reason to rejoice at Christmas.
Isn’t that one of the things we value most, someone willing to ‘be there for us, or with us’?
Don’t we say that you can tell who your real friends are by looking at who’s right there with you in the bad times?
Well, Christmas came about because God chose to be ‘right there with us’.
He even came to ultimately take the rap or punishment for our sin and mistakes.
It’s one level of love to forgive someone for their wrongs, it’s another to forgive them and then take the rap for it!
The message of Christmas isn’t of a gift that we need a new upgrade of, or for the following year or a few public holidays.
The gift at the first Christmas was of a God who would never leave us or forsake us – God with us!
On our best days and on our worst days, God is right there!
He has walked this earth just like us, among us, as one of us. He is not distant, but rather He bridged the divide we could never bridge and felt the best and worst of the human experience.
Christmas tells of a God who did not want to be distant and gave beyond measure to be with us.
Whoever we are today and whatever journey we have walked, it has not been alone even if we did not realise – God was there!
- He saw our tears
- He knew our pain
- He was waiting, willing, ready to forgive our failures, sins and mistakes
- He was longing for us to let Him be with us in the midst of whatever we have faced.
We see the different responses to God’s willingness to be with us in the many and varied characters in the Christmas story.
- Mary – willing to obey God and it says that after the birth of Jesus she treasured these things in her heart
- Joseph – shocked, surprised and in disbelief at first, but after a dream from God, we see another open hearted to God being with him
- The Shepherds – rejoiced at the understanding of God with them
- Not being very well esteemed in the eyes of the community, lowly even, the shepherds seemed delighted God would include them in being close
- The wise men from the East responded with reverence and honour that God would choose to be with us
- Herod was filled with fear and anger the God would be with us and considered it interference and in the way of his own power and plans.
In one breath, mankind has searched ways to get ‘the gods’ to listen to them, engage with them, search them out and bless them. Yet Christmas tells us God chose to reach down to us and longs to be with us.
But seemingly the opposite is also true, mankind has tried with great persistence to push God away and out of their world and life so they could be their own god and rule to self.
- But again Christmas shows us God’s purpose in coming to be with us was not to judge, but save – yet people still seem intent on pushing Him away
What will our response be to a God who is with us?
The first Christmas was brought about by a loving God who wished to save us and be with us. Will we accept this precious gift with rejoicing, and receive the peace and goodwill it brings to our lives?
Suggestions for discussion
- Christmas happened so that we could be saved from our sins. Discuss how this has affected you
- Discuss why it is so terrifying to admit our need for Jesus even though you know why He has come
- One of the things we value the most is someone willing to ‘be there for us, or with us’. Do you feel this way?