Sunday, December 24, 2023

The Nativity, AD 2023


As we celebrate Christmas 2023, the Nativity display reminds us of who it is about; and the calendar points to the fact that the Nativity was such an event historically that nothing else can compare. Sure, there are other calendars; the Japanese, Chinese, Indians, Israelis, and others have calendars, but the calendar based on Jesus' life is used almost universally around the world.

When you look at the manger scene above, you see Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Gathered near are a shepherd, a donkey, a sheep, and three wise men. Similar scenes are displayed all over during the Christmas season.

But, what does the Biblical record show, and what does it mean. The Bible does mention the presence of shepherds at the manger scene, but does not specifically mention the number of wise men. It tells of gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, but not how many men came. The written Biblical record does not place them at the manger, either.

We see depictions of livestock ranging from a sheep and a donkey as shown above, to scenes with those animals, as well as cattle, and camels. There was no Kodachrome or digital photography then, so all we have is the written record. But it is sufficient to tell the story.

At first glance, we might think of the Nativity as the beginning of the story, but it has its origins in eternity past. Mankind's story begins in the Garden of Eden with the creation of Adam and Eve by this same Jesus. (As the Apostle John writes: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. John 1: 1-3)

An integral part of the story is the fact that Jesus' conception was like no other, in that his mother Mary was a virgin. This is unique in human history. (Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a manAnd the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. Luke 1: 34-35)

This same Jesus, the Son of God, ministered from Galilee to Jerusalem and points in between, healing the sick, raising the dead, and calling on people to follow Him as the long sought Messiah the Jewish people had been looking for.

Eventually He was betrayed, arrested, tried in a Kangaroo Court, and crucified on a cross by the Romans.

He rose from the grave; ascended to Heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father.

The Bible says he is coming back some day, but that is a story for another day. 

What about today? Here are some points to ponder, with credit to C. S. Lewis.

Was He a liar?
If so, why would his disciples have preached his Gospel, even to the point of execution themselves. 

Was He a lunatic?
If He thought He was the Son of God, but wasn't, then those around Him would have been able to debunk His story. No one has done it yet.

Is He Lord of All?
If He is not, then forget about him. But, if He is, then it is necessary to know Him, not just know about Him. 

Are you ready? Then pray this prayer-

Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner. Your Bible says that if I turn to You and confess my sins to You, that You will give me new, eternal life, beginning right now, and continuing after the death of this mortal body into eternity future with You. I trust Your word, ask You to forgive my sins, and give me the gift of eternal life. I receive You now as my Lord and Savior. Thank you for this gift.    Amen

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