Posted: December 18, 2015 in Generic, Inspirational, Motivational, Religion
Tags: , , , , , , ,
Christmas can be celebrated in the school room with pine trees; tinsel and reindeer, but there must be no mention of the man whose birthday is being celebrated. One must wonder how a teacher would answer if a student asked why it was called Christmas.” ― Ronald Reagan ―

Billions of people around the world observe Christmas as a religious and cultural celebration. Many popular customs associated with this annual holiday have evolved over hundreds of years. Today, the Christmas season is a mixture of pagan, Christian, and secular themes which vary throughout the world.

In Christian theology, the Birth of Jesus is the reason for the “Christ’s Mass” celebration. Christmas commemorates the extraordinary conception and supernatural nature of an exceptional child who was born in fulfillment of the divine will of God. Here is one of the New Testament accounts:

1-7 “At that time a proclamation was made by Caesar Augustus that all the inhabited world should be registered. This was the first census, undertaken while Cyrenius was governor of Syria and everybody went to the town of his birth to be registered. Joseph went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s town, Bethlehem, in Judea, because he was a direct descendant of David, to be registered with his future wife, Mary, now in the later stages of her pregnancy. So it happened that it was while they were there in Bethlehem that she came to the end of her time. She gave birth to her first child, a son. And as there was no place for them inside the inn, she wrapped him up and laid him in a manger.” – Luke 2:1-7

The Christian Christmas story can be summed up as follows:

The Creator of all things (God) chose to enter into a corporal existence upon the earth. To accomplish this, the Almighty elected to take the form of a human (one of His own creation). God moved from a timeless dimension (eternity) into the realm of the temporal (time). He picked a young virgin called Mary to supernaturally impregnate. She was used as a vessel to deliver the incarnate God-man into this world. All of this was explained to her in a visitation which she received from an otherworldly being (Angel) prior to the pregnancy. The creator entered this world as the man-child called Jesus. Christmas celebrates this birth (December 25th is not the actual historic date). Jesus lived on the earth for about 30 years before embarking on His mission – to seek out and salvage a stranded creation which had gone astray. This is why He is called the Liberator (aka Savior, Redeemer, Deliverer, Rescuer, etc.).

To expunge these facts from the Christian celebration of Christmas is diabolical. And yet, our modern festival is systematically reverting back to the pagan holidays (winter solstice, Saturnalia, etc.) from which many historians believe it was first derived. Consequently, Christmas is rapidly losing its legitimate Christian meaning for most of humanity.  Today, when a random sampling of the general public in the USA is asked to define Christmas, you will hear words like Santa Claus, Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Jingle Bells, Black Friday and the like. Descriptions of brightly decorated homes, holiday parties and of course the iconic Christmas tree also top the list of images that are used to paint the modern Christmas picture. But none of this imagery has a place in the original Christian Christmas narrative.

The supernatural birth of Christ, his miracles, his resurrection and ascension, remain eternal truths, whatever doubts may be cast on their reality as historical facts.” – David Friedrich Strauss

Angels, on the other hand, do have a prominent role in the Christian Christmas chronicle. These messengers from another world were sent to proclaim the arrival of the Liberator on earth. Picture if you will a group of sheep herders passing the night in an open field. Suddenly all heaven breaks loose. Here is the scene as described in the Gospel of Luke:

8-14 “There were some shepherds living in the same part of the country, keeping guard throughout the night over their flocks in the open fields. Suddenly an angel of the Lord stood by their side, the splendor of the Lord blazed around them, and they were terror-stricken. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid! Listen, I bring you glorious news of great joy which is for all the people. This very day, in David’s town, a Savior has been born for you. He is Christ, the Lord. Let this prove it to you: you will find a baby, wrapped up and lying in a manger. And in a flash there appeared with the angel a vast host of the armies of Heaven, praising God, saying, “Glory to God in the highest Heaven! Peace upon earth among men of goodwill!” – Luke 2:8-14 (Phillips)

In my mind, I see the shepherds relaxing by a softly burning fire. The night was calm, and the sky was bright. But then, suddenly, an Angel burst on the scene and shook up everything. In fact, the sky filled with these beings from another world. When that happened, the shepherds freaked. They weren’t just unnerved; the Bible says they were, terror-stricken! Who wouldn’t be?

Almighty God sure knows how to make an entrance. The spectacle in the skies that night certainly frightened those that witnessed the event. It was a good kind of fear. In the Older Testament of the Bible, King Solomon said, “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.” So, the Christian Christmas story would not be complete without reverent “fear”.

Nothing has changed really. The story of Christmas still frightens people today – but not for the same reason. These days, it is Jesus who frightens people. Just the mention of His name creates incredible apprehension in some individuals; outright disdain in others.

Finding the real joy of Christmas comes not in the hurrying and the scurrying to get more done, nor is it found in the purchasing of gifts. We find real joy when we make the Savior the focus of the season.” ― Thomas S. Monson

Think about how the Newer Testament writer Matthew describes Jesus:

23“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” – which means, “God with us.” – Matthew 1:23 (NIV)

Immanuel is perhaps the highest title that Scripture ascribes to Jesus. After all, He didn’t come as a mere religious leader or a great prophet that was a cut above the others. He didn’t come as a social revolutionary either. Jesus came as Immanuel – God in human flesh. Isn’t that brilliant?  Almighty God arrives from another dimension (the place we simply refer to as Heaven) to live on the earth as a man!

And what about this foretelling statement from the prophet Isaiah as recorded in the Older Testament:

6”For to us a Child will be born. To us a Son will be given. And the rule of the nations will be on His shoulders. His name will be called Wonderful, Teacher, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.”  Isaiah 9:6

Listen, the nations of this world might put up with a story about a cute little baby in a straw-filled feeding-box, but they will hardly accept the titles, “Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.”

When Christians attach these crowning designations to Jesus we’re acknowledging that He is infinitely greater than anyone who ever walked on the earth. It means we accept Him as the highest authority in life. This is why we are willing to place our absolute trust in His message and mission. It is also why we are willing to obey His words.

And that is what alarms (and terrifies) this present world order about Jesus and His followers.

This is not a new phenomenon. When the Magi from the East eventually found their way to Jerusalem looking for Jesus they asked King Herod,

2“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” – Matthew 2:2 (NIV)

Do you remember the reaction of Herod and the religious leaders when they heard that news?

3“When King Herod heard this he was disturbed and all Jerusalem with him.” – Matthew 2:3 (NIV).

The empires of this earth know how to handle one of their own. They do not know how to handle somebody from another world who claims to be the giver of life, the embodiment of truth and the only way to find the one true God.

If Jesus had been a mere human the establishment could have easily contained His influence. The authorities would have mounted an elaborate smear campaign in an attempt to eliminate all of his credibility with the multitudes. If that did not work, they would have threatened Him and perhaps He would have withdrawn. If threats proved ineffective, the powers that be would have arrested Him. And, if all else failed, the “system” would simply kill Him off, and that would have ended the work of a mere mortal. Oh, that’s right, they did all that.  It didn’t work.

Jesus wasn’t an ordinary human. That’s why insults, accusations, and even death couldn’t contain Him. He was Immanuel – God in the flesh – and it wasn’t possible to control Him! In fact, it was not until Jesus was ready to die that He allowed Himself to be taken and put to death. Listen to what he said,

18“No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.” – John 10:18 (NLB)

Immanuel appeared on earth to follow a Divine blueprint for the reclamation of humanity. His death was part of that plan. Here is how Jesus described it,

23-24“… I must fall and die like a kernel of wheat that falls into the furrows of the earth. Unless I die I will be alone—a single seed. But my death will produce many new wheat kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.” – John 12:23-24

Today, Jesus (in his transcendent form) enters a human spirit and grows His kingdom from within, one disciple at a time – all over the world. The Scriptures predict that there will come a day when, “the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14)

The God/man – Jesus – is the Liberator of mankind (the created beings who have been marooned on this planet for a long time awaiting rescue). The empire He came to inaugurate is not of this space-time continuum; nevertheless it is here and it is irrepressible! And that is why the spirit of this world (Anti-Christ) fears and hates Him!

At Christmas, in spite of what the kingdoms of this world may say or do – Jesus is still the reason Christians celebrate the season!

(To Be Continued …)

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.  For more information write to:
InsightToday, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, FL 34656


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s