Summary: Preparations necessary for Christmas celebrations.
A pastor received a Christmas card with a note in it, from a lady in his congregation. He said she was very complimentary about his preaching and compared him with Chuck Swindoll. She finished by writing, "I think you are one of the really great preachers of all time." Later that day, when he showed the note to his wife, she asked, "Who is that woman?" He replied, "She is a very intelligent woman in the congregation who loves great preaching." He then asked his wife, "How many great preachers do you suppose there really are in the world?" She replied, "One less than you think."
Have you ever imagined how does this world look like if Jesus were not born in that manger in Bethlehem around two thousand years ago? No Churches; and definitely no Christian institution of any kind. Red Cross does not exist; World Vision and World Relief are never heard of; the Salvation Army is not even mentioned. All these charitable organizations exist today because it was the first Christians, followers of the risen Lord, who initiated a life of charity. Thalasius, a third century Christian monk, founded the first asylum for the handicap children. He lived in a time when the Spartans killed their children who were born handicap. Apollonius, a third century merchant, founded the first pharmacy, dispensing medicines free of charge. Fabiola, a devoted Christian lady, founded the first hospital. To further mention the top universities, Harvard, Yale and many more, were all founded by people who have firm faith in Jesus Christ – the main character in our Christmas celebrations.
As we ponder about how are we to prepare for this year’s grand Christmas celebration, what are the things that mostly come to mind? We have lavishly decorated our homes with Christmas trees, colorful lanterns and lights glitter our gates, main doors, foyers and windows. Others have finalized their itineraries when, where and how they would hold and host parties such as reunions, homecomings, and the like. Whether or not we are prepared, there is only one thing that is definite. Christmas is coming to town!
1. For Christmas Day, God Reserves His Place
2. For Christmas Day, God Reveals His Promise
3. For Christmas Day, God Releases His Power
To us (who believe), Christmas is a preparation for Life. To Jesus (our Savior), Christmas is a preparation for Death. Several notions that we need to ponder, and meditate upon, as we look ahead to Christmas Day:
1. For Christmas Day, God Reserves His Place
How ironic that God chose a teenage girl, poor as she was and from a town of ill repute (Nazareth of Galilee), to become the earthly mother of the majestic Only-begotten Son of God. But God’s choice is neither based on human achievement nor social popularity. Look deeply how God chose and reserved a place for Christ to be born:
a. It’s a place that was Pure.
The Bible describes Mary as a "virgin pledged to be married", "parthenos" in the Greek text, which means an "unmarried daughter or girl". And girls of that age, in that time, were believed to be sexually unblemished by men according to customs and traditions. The prophet Isaiah (7:14) saw Mary hundreds of years ahead, and Luke referred to what Isaiah saw (1:27) and confirmed what had been written in the book of the prophet. It was a reservation that God made based on a moral standard that God Himself has endowed.
b. It’s a place that was Prophesied.
When the angel proclaimed, "you who are highly favored", "charitoo", in Greek text, he meant that Mary received grace from God. The root word in the Greek text is grace "charis", and it means that Mary was accepted by God on the basis of God’s choosing, and then endowed her with special honor to be used as a human instrument through whom the Savior of the world would be born. It was not something that she deserved but an absolute work of God without any iota of human merit. Prophesies, in the Old Testament, are messages from God directed to His people through a prophet – God’s mouthpiece. The prophet Isaiah gave the Christ several titles (9:6): Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. Luke summed it all up, "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; his kingdom will never end." (1:32,33). It was a reservation that God made based on a scriptural standard that God Himself has proclaimed.
c. It’s a place that was Prepared.
How comforting are the angel’s words, "The Lord is with you". This is not merely a presence that stays beside you; it is a presence that is closely associated and personally involved in you. The Greek word that is used here is "meta", not "para", which is more than just an accompaniment. This is the same presence that is described by His name, "Immanuel", meaning God with us (Matt. 1:23). God had been preparing Mary from the time of her birth until that moment of the angel’s announcement. It was a reservation that God made on the basis of His eternal sovereignty that to God alone we must ascribe.