METRO PLUS

Finding Christ in Christmas

IT IS time to look at Christmas beyond its celebrations of cakes and cards and merry-making and its commercialisation globally. Within the tunnel of the good times, we seem to have brought ourselves to a blinding standstill. It is time we reached for the peace and joy of the Christ of Christmas.

The narrative account of Jesus is given in four gospels. Gospel means `susamachar'. The good news of God reconciling man with Himself through His Son, Jesus. The four biographers are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Three have written what are known as the synoptic gospels, stressing the humanity of Christ, while the fourth, John, stresses the divinity and deity of Christ. They each present a different picture of Jesus: A King, lion-like; A Servant, ox-like: A Perfect Man, man-like; and Mighty God, eagle-like.

On this day, a virgin, Mary brought her first-born Son; wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger (a feed trough for animals). On that very night, an angel came and told some shepherds , "Do not be afraid, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For there is born, the Saviour who is Christ the Lord, and this is the message of God from heaven to the peoples of the earth, `Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace and goodwill towards men'."

There is a sobering comparison between John 1:11, and John 1:12 - the former the `saddest' and the latter the `gladdest' verse in the Bible.

Verse11 says, "He came into His own and His own received him not." Verse12 says, "But as many as received Him to them gave He the power to become the sons of God, even to those that believe in His name."

Reverting to the angels, and specially the annunciation of the Divine message that the archangel, Gabriel announced to Mary, "Rejoice highly favoured one, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women. And behold you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son and shall call His name Jesus".

Mary enquires, "How can this be, seeing I know not a man"?

Gabriel answers, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you, therefore the Holy One that is born of you shall be called the Son of God".

Jesus being conceived by the Holy Spirit, the supernatural element in the incarnation was not the actual birth of Christ, but rather His conception. His birth is a fulfilment of an Old Testament prophecy that he would be born of a virgin. (Isa.7:14). He was born as all humans are born, but conceived supernaturally. It is vital to make this distinction. Jesus is as completely God as though He had never been man, and as completely man as though he had never been God.

Christmas is the beginning of the Saviour's journey from heaven to a cradle on earth to the cross on Golgotha. The birth of Jesus in a manger on a quiet night contrasts to the cacophony of Golgotha. By becoming the blemish-less sacrificial Lamb of God, God Himself got born in a manger so that we could have the opportunity of reciprocating His great love by giving Him a place in our hearts. At His birth Jesus was worshipped by wise men. (Mt.2:11). On the cross he was ridiculed by wicked men (Mt.27:29).

God created man with an ability to think, to acquire knowledge, and to discern truth. God wants us to use our minds.

As the apostle Peter admonishes, "Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defence to everyone who asks you to give an account of the `hope' that is in you...."

Put simply the hope is the person of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. That, in fact, is Christmas. `Immanuel' meaning, `God is with us'.

ALEXANDER C. JOHN

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