Summary: Jesus is the promised King of Christmas.
Christmas According to Matthew
Rev. Brian Bill
December 6-7, 2014
Transition: “O Holy Night”
Shalom! My name is Levi Bar Alphaeus, but most folks just call me Matthew. I had the honor of writing what has become known as the Gospel of Matthew. This title was added in the second century and I’ve always been a bit uncomfortable with it because the Holy Spirit is the one who moved me and breathed life into the words. That’s why I wrote in the third person and never used my name as the author. It’s really not my gospel anyway – it’s the gospel according to Jesus! Actually, there aren’t four gospels – there’s one gospel presented by four different writers.
I understand that there’s quite a bit of confusion in your culture about Christmas. Some ignore Immanuel and are all wrapped up in consumerism. Others seem to be at war with it. I understand that the American Atheists have put up a billboard in several cities with a picture of a young girl in a Santa hat saying these words: “Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is to skip church! I’m too old for fairy tales!”
Fairy tales? Are you kidding me? I saw Jesus. I spoke with him. He changed my life. I died as a martyr for Him.
I also heard that a satanic temple has been given approval to put up a holiday display in Florida’s Capitol rotunda. This was rejected last year because it was “grossly offensive” but this year they’re allowing this display that shows an angel falling into the fires of Hell. A spokesman added, “We hope that, this holiday season, everybody can put their religious differences aside and respect that the celebratory spirit of responsible hedonism is available to all.”
Since I wrote a relatively long account, especially compared to Mark’s manuscript, I’ve been asked to give you my perspective on Christmas. I’m going to give you the facts, not a fairy tale! And the fact is that Satan will spend eternity in Hell because Jesus crushed Him on the cross!
I love the words to the song that was just sung.
O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born.
I’ll focus on the highlights of this most holy event that happened on a most holy night. But to do that, you need to know a little about my entire book. Actually, if you haven’t read it for awhile I encourage you to do so since it’s the most systematic arrangement of all the gospels and has been used for years to help new converts learn about the Lord Jesus Christ.
I focused on some of the details surrounding His birth and then I ended my report with His death and resurrection. The two bookends are the womb and the empty tomb.
As I read the other gospel accounts, it strikes me that the four of us emphasized different elements. When it comes to the Christmas story, I stressed the fulfillment of Old Testament Scripture and I give more attention to Joseph. Luke, on the other hand, wrote for the non-religious and helps us see Christmas through the eyes of Mary. Mark, who always seems in a hurry, actually skips Christmas and races ahead quickly to the cross, while John goes back to eternity past to show that the infant is really infinite.
While I used Mark for some of my source material, are you aware that I’m the only Gospel writer who mentions the church? In chapter 16, I record what Jesus said in response to Peter’s faith: “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it…” And as I look around here, I see that Jesus is still at work building His church.
My book is like a bridge between the Old Testament and the New Testament. One early Christian leader said this, “In the Old Testament the New is enfolded, in the New Testament the Old is unfolded.” I’ve been told that no other account so closely links the Old Testament and the New Testament. I guess I’ve never really counted but I quote from almost every book of the Old Testament.
Here are just two quotes that correspond to the Christmas story.
• Isaiah 7:14 tells us that the Messiah would be born to a virgin and that His name would be Immanuel. Listen to what I wrote in Matthew 1:23: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel.”