Summary: Vital ways God taught us to share Christmas greetings.
Ever wondered where the idea of Christmas greetings came from? Why do we greet others with “Merry Christmas” and send Christmas cards, letters and emails?
The idea comes from God. God was the first Christmas greeter and He didn’t send a card or even an email to say, “Merry Christmas” to the world. He sent angels, He sent a prophet named John the Baptist, He sent His own Son, and then He sent Christ’s followers to share the Good News about Christmas!
We’ve got a lot of Scriptural ground to cover today so we’ll get right to the first installment in our three-part Christmas series, "Sharing Christmas."
In Luke chapter one we learn why and how to share Christmas greetings. And, as I said, we learn from God. As in so many other areas of our lives we need to be like Him.
Luke’s Christmas story begins like this. We’re using the Amplified Bible.
1SINCE [as is well known] many have undertaken to put in order and draw up a [thorough] narrative of the surely established deeds which have been accomplished and fulfilled in and among us,
2Exactly as they were handed down to us by those who from the [official] beginning [of Jesus’ ministry] were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word [that is, of the doctrine concerning the attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God],
3It seemed good and desirable to me, [and so I have determined] also after having searched out diligently and followed all things closely and traced accurately the course from the highest to the minutest detail from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,
4[My purpose is] that you may know the full truth and understand with certainty and security against error the accounts (histories) and doctrines of the faith of which you have been informed and in which you have been orally instructed.
In verse 4 Luke spells out his purpose in writing to the original recipient of his Good News account, Theopholis. Luke was a doctor, a scientist, interested in the facts. He wanted his friend Theopholis, to know that the Christmas story is not some fairy tale. It’s not like "A Miracle on 34th Street" or, "Its a Wonderful Life," or even "A Christmas Carol," all movies I like to watch by the way.
You younger adults probably like different Christmas movies but what I’m getting at is that the Christmas story is not a movie script. Luke writes about “eyewitnesses” and “highest to the minutest detail” and about writing “an orderly account,” so that we cold “know the full truth and understand with certainty and security against error.”
There are a lot of Scrooges and Grinches out there who think the story of Christmas is a hoax but it’s authentic! You have this scientist named Luke writing to authenticate it.
Yes, it’s miraculous! It’s supernatural! But it’s real! It’s true! And it’s so important – it’s so special – that God went to great lengths to SHARE CHRISTMAS with us by GREETING US!
For the next three weeks we’re going to look at the greetings from God and how they teach us vital truths about how to greet one another.
The first GREETING FROM GOD is in the miraculous birth of John the Baptist. It wasn’t as miraculous as Christ’s birth but it was supernatural. John’s parents were… well, let’s continue the story from Luke’s Good News account:
5In the days when Herod was king of Judea there was a certain priest whose name was Zachariah, of the daily service (the division) of Abia; and his wife was also a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
6And they both were righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.
7But they had no child, for Elizabeth was barren; and both were far advanced in years.
8Now while on duty, serving as priest before God in the order of his division,
9As was the custom of the priesthood, it fell to him by lot to enter [the sanctuary of] the temple of the Lord and burn incense.
10And all the throng of people were praying outside [in the court] at the hour of incense [burning].
11And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense.
12And when Zachariah saw him, he was troubled, and fear took possession of him.
13But the angel said to him, Do not be afraid, Zachariah, because your petition was heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you must call his name John [God is favorable].
14And you shall have joy and exultant delight, and many will rejoice over his birth,
15For he will be great and distinguished in the sight of the Lord. And he must drink no wine nor strong drink, and he will be filled with and controlled by the Holy Spirit even in and from his mother’s womb.