Sunday, November 30, 2014

Christmas: a Season to Celebrate the Fulfillment of God's Promise

Photo by Dnalor_01 from Wikimedia Commons                 
All over the world Christmas is the most popular occasion of the year. Some Christians consider it a religious celebration while others shun it believing that it is replete with practices that are deemed to be pagan in origin. The popularity of Christmas has made it not only a religious but also a cultural tradition so that even non-Christians are influenced or affected with the merriment that goes with the celebration of that holiday.
To many people Christmas is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ who they believe is God’s promised Messiah. Indeed there are over 360 prophecies in the Old Testament on the Messiah.  And Biblical scholars believe that only the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ life could be related to many of them.  Jesus Christ was born during the reign of Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar or about 700 years after the prophecies were made.  

Isaiah’s Prophecy

One of the most notable prophecies about the Messiah was by Isaiah at around 712 B.C. Chapter 9, verse 6 in the Old Testament says, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.”

A birth by a virgin

Mankind inherited the sin committed by God’s original creations Adam and Eve who disobeyed Him in the Garden of Eden. God had to send His Son to the world to redeem mankind, and chose a virgin to beget His only Son. Isaiah 7:14 says, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and call His name Immanuel.” This prophecy was fulfilled in Luke1:34-35 “Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.’” The word “Immanuel” means God is with us. Man cannot reach God, but God came in the flesh to this world through his Son Jesus.

God has a Son    
The Old Testament itself stated that God has a Son: Proverbs 30:4 (about 700 BC) says, “Who has ascended into heaven, or descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has bound the waters in a garment? Who has established all ends of the earth? What is His name, and what is His Son’s name, if you know?”

Born in Bethlehem

The Old Testament also made mention of the place where mankind’s savior would be born.  Micah 5:2 (about 710 B.C.) says, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrata, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler of Israel, whose goings forth are from old, from everlasting.” This prophecy is fulfilled in Luke 2:4-6 which says, “Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife who was with a child. So it was that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.”

Confusion on the nature of Christ

Since the early Christian era the nature of Christ has been the cause of confusion and division among Christians and non-Christian who deny the Divinity of Christ. Roman Catholics believe that there is only one God in three persons- the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Non-Christians and even some Christian religious group question this concept of a monotheistic God. But adherents of trinity believe that trinity is one of the great mysteries of God as far as the Catholic and other Christian faith are concerned. Indeed, in Isaiah 9:6 the “Mighty God” is one of the names of the Messiah. Jesus himself said in John 10:30 “I and My Father are one.”

The greatest moral example of mankind

Jesus is one of the historical and religious figures that set good moral examples for mankind to follow. He was chaste and lived a sinless life. He helped the poor and healed the sick. He told his followers to love God and to love not only their neighbors but also their enemy. He also defied traditions that were unreasonable and even barbaric but were socially acceptable during His time. A case in point was the adulterous woman who was to be stoned to death. Jesus told her accusers to cast the first stone if they themselves had never sinned at all. There are many other good deeds by Jesus which are worth emulating. Love is one of Jesus’ central themes during his ministry. Laws and cultures of some western countries are founded in Judeo-Christian traditions and many of them are inspired by the teachings and examples set by Jesus.

God loves us

There are controversies regarding the month Christ was born. In most parts of the world Christmas is usually celebrated in December. Some biblical scholars say that December is not a likely month for Jesus’ birth because the Bible says that at that time shepherds were out in the field at night watching their flock. They probably would not do it in a harsh winter month. Jesus may have been born in months other than December. But should the month of celebration of Christmas really matter? The most important thing for us is to be grateful of God’s fulfillment of his promise which he did because of His love for us. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”