By Gueary Clendenning
Christmas is just around the corner. After Thanksgiving, the pace quickens toward the big day! We’ll find ourselves in a big rush, always pursuing one more thing we need to get accomplished. We look for the nearest parking spot in the crowded mall, searching for the perfect gift. Expectations heighten as we look for family members to arrive. What’s Christmas without Mom’s chocolate chip cookies! And yes, when Christmas is finally over, we look forward to getting some rest. Ha!
Isn’t it easy, with all the flurry of Christmas to miss the real meaning of Christmas?
The night Christ was born, the inn-keeper was busy with a full house of customers, thanks to the new taxation decreed by Caesar Augustus. The people of Bethlehem were unaware that the couple entering their town were about to give birth to the Son of God! Perhaps even Joseph and Mary wondered how this could be God-directed when the only place they could find shelter was in a smelly stable. But this night would change everything! Micah, a prophet of the Old Testament had prophesied hundreds of years before, that a ruler was to be born in Bethlehem, whose origins were from Eternity. “But you, oh Bethlehem…though you are a small village in Judah, a ruler of Israel shall come from you, one whose origins are from the ancient past.”
Another Old Testament prophet declared “Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Immanuel means “God with us.”
That night near Bethlehem, shepherds were working their usual routine of herding sheep into a cave, where, at the entrance, they would keep watch. Just another, long, boring night!
But, out of nowhere, a mighty angel appears in the blackened sky. In a flash, the darkness was expelled with a brilliant light. The shepherds are paralyzed with a gripping fear. The angel said to them, “don’t be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy for everyone. The Savior, yes, the Messiah, has been born tonight in Bethlehem. And this is how you will recognize him: you will find him in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven, praising God, saying “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all of whom God favors.” Luke 2:10-14.
Time and space will not permit me to tell you about a devout man who was told by God that he will not see death until his eyes had seen the Messiah. His story is found in Luke 2:25-33. Nor do I have the space to tell you about the men from the East, who in studying the scriptures were led to follow a star to where Jesus was born. Their story is in Matthew 2:1-12.
The shepherds and the wise men did not miss the meaning of Christmas. God’s gift to the world was His Son, Jesus Christ. Why? The scriptures give us the answer: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only son, that whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16.
The truth is that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glorious standards. Yet, now, God in His gracious kindness declares us not guilty. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, God’s justice is satisfied. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed His blood, sacrificing his life for us.
Such a great gift! Our sins are forgiven and our standing before God made right. So please, don’t miss the true meaning of Christmas. May you have a beautiful and Christ centered Christmas.