It may seem strange writing about Christmas in the spring, but I want to look at the birth of Jesus. Some Hebrew scholars believe Jesus was born in the fall around the Feast of the Tabernacle. So why do we celebrate Jesus’ birth on December 25? That’s another study all in itself, but suffice it to say the church was competing with the world.
Nevertheless the date is no where near as important as the event itself. The significance of the Christ child was lost on those looking for the Messiah and revealed to those rejected by those very seekers. Notice the Apostle Matthew’s report:
“When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:9-11)
Scripture does not reveal how many Magi came to worship Jesus; again tradition and our carols reflect Three Kings of the Orient but that represents the three gifts laid before the Christ child, not necessarily the number of worshippers at the house of Joseph and Mary. The most important part of Matthew 2 is the chief priests and scribes knew the scriptures, told King Herod about the Messiah, heard the report of the Magi, and did NOT follow them! The Messiah was reported to be less than five miles from where they were standing and they did not try to find Him!
How many seekers just three months ago celebrated the birth of Christ without receiving the gift of Christ? I can tell you before I got saved I did indeed celebrate the birth of Christ, but I never did rejoice in it. Jesus’ mother Mary most certainly did just in the news of His coming:
“And Mary said: ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever.’” (Luke 1:46-55)
Do you realize that when you sing the wonderful Chris Tomlin song “My Soul Magnifies the Lord” that you are singing about Mary’s Magnifcat? That song is on Chris’ Christmas CD and when I removed all the Christmas music from my iPod I left that song on it because when I hear it, it helps my spirit rejoice in God my Savior.
Joy that is real is joy that is Christ-centered. As we saw last week, the world and many Christians confuse happiness for joy. Happiness is centered on your happenings while joy is centered on the source. King David knew in whom to place his joy:
“But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You. For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield.” (Psalm 5:11-12)
Christian holidays are to act as reminders of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Christmas allows us to celebrate and rejoice in the coming of Jesus. Easter gives Christians occasion to celebrate and rejoice in the resurrection of Christ.
We’ll look more at that tomorrow…
If you’re receiving these devotionals for the first time and would like to receive them on a regular basis, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and use “Please add to Devotional List” as the subject.
Copyright © 2012 David Jeffers