Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

May the spirit of love which comes at Christmas fill our homes and our lives and linger there long after the tree is down and the lights are put away for another year.” – Thomas S. Monson –

A long time ago in a stable far, far away…

Multitudes of people around the world pause each December to observe Christmas as a religious and cultural celebration. Numerous popular customs associated with this annual holiday have evolved over hundreds of years. Today, the global Christmas season is a mixture of pagan, Christian, and secular themes.

For many, Christmas offers an opportunity for reflection on the important things in life – a time to become more interested in people and less absorbed in stuff. Christmas inspires the spirit of giving without concern for the getting. As a result, we often rediscover the happiness that comes from the joy we spark in others. And, just for a moment, the minutiae of everyday life is overshadowed by that which has true value.

For Christians, the celebration of Christmas also presents a wonderful time to stop and reflect on the extraordinary arrival of an exceptional child who was sent from another world by a Divine being who has declared himself to be the Almighty One. The Christian Christmas story can be summed up as follows:

The Creator of all things (God) desired to come into a corporal existence upon the earth. To accomplish this, the Almighty elected to take the form of a mortal (one of His own creation). God moved from a timeless dimension (eternity) into the realm of the temporal (time). He picked a young virgin girl 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 envoy (commonly called an Angel) prior to the pregnancy. Thus, the Creator entered this world as the man-child called Jesus.

Christmas celebrates this supernaturally orchestrated birth. Jesus lived on the earth for about 30 years before embarking on His mission – to seek out and salvage His 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 impossible, and yet, our contemporary secular festival has become nothing more than a distant cousin to the pagan celebrations (winter solstice, Saturnalia, etc.) from which many historians believe it was first derived.

Just ask a random sampling of today’s general populace 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 is to be found in the original Biblical narrative concerning the birth of the Christ child.

Christmas means a spirit of love, a time when the love of God and the love of our fellow men should prevail over all hatred and bitterness, a time when our thoughts and deeds and the spirit of our lives manifest the presence of God.” – Author Unknown

Angels and Shepherds, on the other hand, do have a prominent role in the Christian Christmas chronicle. 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 pandemonium breaks loose.

Here is the scene as described in the Biblical Book 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 warm crackling fire. The night was calm, and the sky was bright. But then, suddenly, an otherworldly entity (Angel) burst on the scene and shook up everything. In fact, the sky then filled with these strange visitors. When that happened, the shepherds freaked out. Wouldn’t you? They weren’t just unnerved; the Bible says they were, “terror-stricken!” I guess so. Notice what the Angelic being said to them, “Be not afraid.”

Talk about making a scene; the spectacle in the skies that night was not only remarkable, it also scared the living daylights out of those that witnessed the event. It was a good kind of fear, though. In the Older Testament of the Bible, King Solomon said, “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.” I think they all experienced the fear of God that night.

Oddly, nothing has changed really. The story of Christmas still frightens people today – but not for the same reason. These days, it is facing the reality of Jesus himself that alarms people. Just the mention of His name creates incredible anxiety in some individuals.

The Scriptures are very important to Christmas. For unto us a child was born, and we should be reminded of how Jesus’s amazing journey came to be.” – Monica Johnson

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)

Matthew shamelessly declares that Jesus is God in human form. He refers to him as Immanuel. This is perhaps the greatest title that Scripture ascribes to this supernatural God-man. After all, He didn’t simply arise as a mere self-proclaimed religious leader or declare Himself a great prophet that was a cut above the others. Neither did he come as a social reformer. 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 the son of man (inside of a being he engineered)!

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

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 tolerate a cute diminutive story about a sweet little baby in a straw-filled feeding-box, but they will hardly accept titles bestowed upon him like, “Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.”

When as Christians we affirm these crowning designations ascribed to Jesus, we’re acknowledging that He is infinitely greater than anyone 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 Him. It is also why we are willing to obey His every word. And that is what alarms (and terrifies) this present world order about Jesus and His followers.

The fear of confronting the “real” Jesus is not a new phenomenon. When a group of distinguished foreigners (the Magi) from the East eventually found their way to Jerusalem looking for the young child 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 know how King Herod and the religious people of that day reacted when queried by these visiting ancient astrologers?

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

Jesus is still disturbing people today.  Let’s face it, He was no ordinary mortal. His arrival on the earth was both foretold and revealed to many in the times leading up to his extraordinary birth. He was Immanuel (God in the form of a man), and once here, it wasn’t possible to control Him! That’s why all the insults, accusations, and even death couldn’t stop 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 Himself 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

Death was not the end of Jesus; it was the birth of a new “kingdom” whose builder and maker is the Creator himself (God). That kingdom is here now and it is irrepressible! That is why the spirit of this world (antichrist) fears Him so! Go ahead, deny him if you like, and hate him if it makes you feel good, pretend he never existed; you cannot extinguish the penetrating light of his message. The Newer Testament writer John expressed it this way,

4-5 “In him (Jesus) appeared life and this life was the light of mankind. The light still shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out.” – John 1:4-5 (Phillips)

Remember those shepherds we talked about earlier? After the angelic messenger from another world came to them and announced the birth of Immanuel (God with us), they were scared and bewildered! So, what did those sheep herders do? Deny the reality of what they heard and saw? Run away and hide? Let their family and friends convince them that they had too much Manischewitz or Mogen David that night? Absolutely NOT!

Here’s what the New Testament writer Luke says they did,

15 “When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about”. – Luke 2:15 (NIV)

Incredibly enough the shepherds, in spite of being terrified and confused, searched for the truth! They went to find this “Savior” whose birth was revealed to them in their amazing visitation. Doubtful they understood that this innocent baby, born in obscurity, would one day grow up and traverse their cities and towns exposing them to the truth that would set them free!

God seeks to influence humanity. This is at the heart of the Christmas story. It is the story of light coming into the darkness, of a Savior to show us the way, of light overcoming the darkness, of God’s work to save the world.” – Adam Hamilton

Today, when the Spirit of Jesus (in transcendent form) enters a human soul, His kingdom continues to expand, one disciple at a time. The Scriptures even predict that there will come a time when, “the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.” – (Habakkuk 2:14)

Before our liberator returned to the timeless dimension from which he came, He promised that in the form of a Divine Spirit, He would always be with us and that one day He would physically return again.  The Newer Testament writer John recorded these words spoken to him by Jesus in a vision. They are found in the last section of the Bible known as The Book of Revelation,

20 “See, I stand knocking at the door. If anyone listens to my voice and opens the door, I will go into his house…” – Revelation 3:20 (Phillips)

So what have we learned? The almighty Creator paid a visit to this tiny insignificant spec of a world in the vastness of a universe that he created in order to seek and to rescue a lost and stranded people. It was a salvage mission. A mission of mercy, motivated by perfect love.  You know what? I’m really glad He salvaged me. He’d also like to reclaim you.  Jesus is standing at the door of your life today.  All you have to do is open up your heart and invite Him in.  Hope you will.

Merry Christmas my friends.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher.  He is also
the founder of Living faith Christian Fellowship, Inc., and the Coastal JunkieTM, LLC.
The intellectual property published above is © 2017 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.
For additional information write to: Coastal JunkieTM, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656.
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Want to keep Christ in your Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.” ― Steve Maraboli

Christmas time is here.  Some say that it is the most wonderful time of the year.  Their lists of reasons vary, of course.  The anticipation of Christmas morning with bright paper packages filling the void beneath the festive tree is high on many a list, no doubt.  Family, friends and parties are certainly there as well.

Most of us are familiar with the traditional Christmas story as told by Christendom.  There is that manger scene in Bethlehem with Joseph and Mary, and the Shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night.  Suddenly, Angels appear announcing to them the birth of a savior.  And, let’s not forget the Wise Men who traveled from afar, led by the very special Christmas star.

Three of the four Biblical narratives contain this customary Christmas chronicle. Not so the Gospel of John.  His New Testament writing is unique as it refers to the birth of Jesus as “The Word” becoming a human being and living among mankind.

Here then is the Christmas story according to John:

1 In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
2 He existed in the beginning with God.
3 God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
4 The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
5 That light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.

 6 God sent a man, John the Baptist, 7 to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. 8 John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. 9 The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

 10 He came into the very world he had created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are the reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

 14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. (John 1:1-14)

Clearly the birth of this man known simply as Jesus is presented by all of the Gospel writers as part of a supernatural plan.  The Almighty Creator took on human form in order to visit the world that He created.  But why did He do this?  Let me suggest four reasons:

We are each one on a road going toward home, but we’re not trying to get there for Christmas. We’re trying to get there for eternity. We want to arrive home safely to our loving Father in Heaven. He wants us to make it safely there, so He has sent a guiding light for us to follow: a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, the perfect example.” ― Margaret D. Nadauld

God wants to relate to us.  It is difficult to relate to someone if you have nothing in common with them.  The Newer Testament writer Paul said,

20 “When I am with the Jews I seem as one of them so that they will listen to the Gospel and I can win them to Jesus. When I am with Gentiles who follow Jewish customs and ceremonies I don’t argue, even though I don’t agree, because I want to help them. 21 When with the heathen I agree with them as much as I can, except of course that I must always do what is right as a Christian. And so, by agreeing, I can win their confidence[a] and help them too.  22 When I am with those whose consciences bother them easily, I don’t act as though I know it all and don’t say they are foolish; the result is that they are willing to let me help them. Yes, whatever a person is like, I try to find common ground with him so that he will let me tell him about Jesus and let Christ save him. 23 I do this to get the Gospel to them and also for the blessing I myself receive when I see them come to know Jesus.”  (1 Corinthians 9:20-23)

Paul learned this concept of ministry from his encounters with the Almighty.  He understood that you can’t communicate with someone unless you relate to them. To relate to His creation in a most intimate way, the Word became flesh – God became a man.  Just as light is focused into a sharp image through the lens of a camera, Jesus was the Almighty God in focus.  His life says to all who will pay attention, “This is what God is like and this is what he wants from you”.

Jesus lived his life on earth in much the same way as we live our lives.  He was exposed to the same temptations.  He is familiar with our fears.  He felt life’s pressures.  He relates to us and we can relate to him.  Because of this relationship, we can approach our Creator as one who knows what it is like to be human.

This is Christmas: not the tinsel, not the giving and receiving, not even the carols, but the humble heart that receives anew the wondrous gift –  Jesus the Christ.” ― Frank McKibben

God wants to enlighten us.  We live in the professed “age of enlightenment.”  It’s an era of awareness as we all travel on the information superhighway.  We’re caught in the World Wide Web.  Knowledge travels at light speed.  And yet, confusion is everywhere.  People are wondering what to do and where to turn for the answers.  Of course, advice is dispensed on every cyber-corner.  Much of it is no more than the blind leading the blind.  Seekers everywhere cry out for direction as they search for truth and illumination.  Many wonder, “Whom do we trust?”  In the midst of it all, the message and invitation of Jesus, first proclaimed when he came aboard space ship earth, remains the same: “I am the way, the truth and the light of life… Learn of me…”

God wants to adopt us.  Jesus knew that his visit to earth in human form would be brief.  So he made two important promises; I will not leave you on your own and one day you will be with me.  Followers of the Liberator Jesus are not strays; we are children of the light.  Look at what several verses found in the Bible’s Newer Testament have to say about our position:

 15 “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.  Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15)

5 “God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.” (Galatians 4:5)

5 “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”  (Ephesians 1:5)

It is obvious; God wants to welcome us into his family!  Remember what John wrote “… to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

And when we give each other Christmas gifts in His name, let us remember that He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, and the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans–and all that lives and move upon them. He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused–and to save us from our foolishness, from all our sins, He came down to earth and gave us Himself.” ― Sigrid Undset

God wants to redeem us.  There is another reason why the Eternal Word became a man.  In fact, it is the most important reason of all.  For without this one reason, the others would have no significance.  Our creator was born embodied in a baby called Jesus so that he could grow up among us, reveal himself to us, die in our place to liberate us, and show us the way back home.

The baby Jesus (God born in human form) grew into a great man.  He lived a normal life until the day when he commenced the mission for which he had come into the world.  He then traveled extensively teaching the truth (to all who would listen) about who he was and why he came to the earth.  It was (and still is) a radical message which promised eternal life to everyone who would put their trust in him.  He upset the religious establishment of his day, and as a result he was executed at the urging of the Jewish leaders by the Romans who occupied Israel.  But that was always part of the plan.  His death was the doorway to another dimension (eternity).  He took our guilt and shame upon himself.  When he cried out in his final moments of life as a human, “it is finished,” the debt owed for the original transgression of mankind was settled once and for all.

It is because of His death that the Almighty One can relate to us and enlighten us.  The death of that one unique solitary man called Jesus has made possible our adoption as sons and daughters of the Creator and our liberation from spiritual death.

Remember that, when you see a manger scene this Christmas, when you think of that star shining brightly in the ancient Bethlehem sky, when you read of the angelic beings announcing his birth to the shepherds, and especially when you see a reference to the Magi.  They are called wise men that came in search of the truth.  Indeed, they were very wise.  How about you?  Wise men and wise women still seek Him today.  Do you?

Merry Christmas!

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2016 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved. For additional information write to:
InsightToday, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656. facebook.com/inspopoint
We venture to assert, that if there be any day in the year, of which we may be pretty sure that it was not the day on which the Savior was born, it is the 25th of December. Regarding not the day, let us, nevertheless, give thanks to God for the gift of His dear Son.” – Charles Spurgeon –

So how goes the war? You know; the war over Christmas. It sure seems like some people want to pick a fight, at least with the Christian commemoration of the birth of Jesus at Christmas. The hostilities appear to reside most notably with the nonreligious crowd who seek to expunge every “sacred” overtone from the Christmas season. Of course, this has outraged many in the Christian community. Tempers flare and so the battles rage.

For the sake of honesty (if not accuracy), there have been periods in the history of Christendom when “Believers” waged a war on Christmas as well. Some “factions” within the faith denounce participation in this annual celebration to this day.

The Puritans, for instance, couldn’t stand the Christmas celebration. First of all, there was entirely too much joy and revelry associated with it (a big no-no for that crowd). And besides, December 25th wasn’t really Jesus’ birthday anyway. (Some bible scholars place his actual date of birth sometime in our modern month of September while others claim he was born in March).

Christmas celebrations were outlawed in New England from 1659 until sometime in the mid-1680s. Even after the founding of the United States, it wasn’t until the early 1800s that Christmas began to work its way into the national psyche. In 1836, Alabama was actually the first State to officially declare December 25th a public holiday. But alas, those Puritans of New England remained staunchly…well…Puritanical. In defiance of a Christmas holiday, schools and businesses remained open on December 25th well into the mid-1800s. In fact, it wasn’t until 1907, that Oklahoma became the last US state to declare Christmas a legal holiday. In time, nations all over the world came to identify Christmas as a day set aside for celebrating the birth of the Christ child.

Historically, associating the advent of Jesus with December 25th began in the 4th century AD.  Christianity essentially co-opted the Roman festivals honoring Saturnus (the harvest god) and Mithras (the ancient god of light). Church leaders of that time succeeded in converting large numbers of heathens into followers of Jesus by promising them that they could continue to celebrate their Pagan holidays as Christians.  The concluding day of the festivities, December 25th, was given a new name – the birthday of Jesus.

Much later, in the year 1223, Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the emblematic nativity scene. He was inspired by a trip to the Holy Land and hoped the crèche would cultivate the worship of Jesus.  For many Christians, the nativity scene is still an enduring symbol of the entrance of the architect of all things into the very world which he created. Okay, I confess, mine is displayed every year too.

It seems quite absurd that our modern secular society wants to revel in the sights and sounds of the Christmas holiday season, but despises (in some cases to the point of persecution) the joy of Christians who openly celebrate the birth of their Redeemer at Christmas time. It’s acceptable for shopping malls, public squares, town centers, businesses and homes to be awash in decorations of every possible description, but God forbid if we dare try to include a manger scene in a public display. That’s just way too offensive.

The religion of secular humanism has a choke-hold on Western culture at the moment.  Humanists have their own philosophies and doctrines as well as their PC Police to enforce them.  Christmas is gradually returning to its pagan roots as our post-modern society rejects the traditional incorporation of Jesus into their now mostly secular “Holiday” observances.

Christmas means a spirit of love, a time when the love of God and the love of our fellow men should prevail over all hatred and bitterness, a time when our thoughts and deeds and the spirit of our lives manifest the presence of God.” – Author Unknown

As a follower of the Liberator Jesus, I understand the anger and frustration that many feel toward the anti-Christian bigots or Christmaphobics. But, it makes no sense for people of faith to turn this beautiful season into a time of hatred & bitterness. Go ahead; boldly declare the reason for the season! Say MERRY CHRISTMAS with impunity and without apology. That is your RIGHT!  But, if you’re really going to celebrate the true spirit of the Liberator Jesus at Christmas time, do so with joy and love – especially in the face of blind ignorance.

Our Redeemer was born to bring enlightenment into the darkness of a spiritually deaf, dumb and blinded world. According to Jesus, mankind will find its way out of darkness by following the illumination that He came here to spread.  Without that guiding light, humanity is hopelessly lost and groping in the shadows; futilely stumbling through life in search of that elusive road to an everlasting fulfillment.  Humanism and this “new age” of enlightenment may offer a plethora of distractive substitutions, but they are counterfeits for the truth.  Jesus alone can resurrect a human spirit and revitalize the human soul. He said so,

“…I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father [God] except by (through) Me.” – John 14:6 (AMP)

Nothing can stand as His equal.  Deny him, hate him, pretend he never existed; you cannot extinguish the penetrating light of his message. The Newer Testament writer John expressed it this way,

4-5“In him (Jesus) appeared life and this life was the light of mankind. The light still shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out.”  – John 1:4-5 (Phillips)

Remember those shepherds we talked about in the New Testament book of Luke, Chapter 2? After the angelic messenger from another world came to them and announced the birth of Emanuel (which means, God with us), they were terrified!  So, what did those sheep herders do?  Deny the reality of what they heard and saw? Run away and hide? Let their family and friends convince them that they had too much Manischewitz that night?  Absolutely NOT!

Here’s what the New Testament writer Luke says they did,

15“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about”. – Luke 2:15 (NIV)

Incredibly enough, the shepherds, in spite of being terrified and perhaps even a bit bewildered, searched for the truth!  They went to find this “Savior” whose birth was revealed to them in their amazing visitation.  Doubtful they understood that this innocent baby, born in obscurity, would one day grow up and traverse their cities and towns exposing them to the truth that would set them free!

Christmas in Bethlehem… The ancient dream: a cold, clear night made brilliant by a glorious star, the smell of incense, shepherds and wise men falling to their knees in adoration of the sweet baby, the incarnation of perfect love.” – Lucinda Franks

Many years ago I read a Christmas reflection by Ron Hutchcraft entitled You Can Have My Room.  The story was about a boy named Harold and a Christmas play in the little town of Cornwall. Here’s what Ron shared,

“It was the biggest night of the year in a little town called Cornwall. It was the night of the annual Christmas pageant. It’s an especially big deal for the children in town — they get to try out for the roles in the Christmas story. Everybody wants a part; which leads us to the problem of Harold.

Harold really wanted to be in the play, too, but he was – well, he was kind of a slow and simple kid. The directors were ambivalent – I mean, they knew Harold would be crushed if he didn’t have a part, but they were afraid he might mess up the town’s magic moment. Finally, they decided to cast Harold as the innkeeper – the one who turns Mary and Joseph away the night Jesus is to be born. He had only one line – “I’m sorry, we have no room.” Well, no one could imagine what that one line was going to do to everyone’s Christmas.

The night of the pageant the church was packed, as usual. The Christmas story unfolded according to plan – angels singing, Joseph’s dream, and the trip to Bethlehem. Finally, Joseph and Mary arrived at the door of the Bethlehem inn, looking appropriately tired. Joseph knocked on the inn door, and Harold was there to open the door. Joseph asked his question on cue – “Do you have a room for the night?” Harold froze. After a long pause, Harold mumbled his line, “I’m sorry – we have no room.” And, with a little coaching, he shut the door. The directors heaved a sigh of relief – prematurely.

As Mary and Joseph disappeared into the night, the set suddenly started shaking again – and the door opened. Harold was back! And then, in an unrehearsed moment that folks would not soon forget, Harold went running after the young couple, shouting as loud as he could — “Wait! Don’t go Joseph. Bring Mary back! You can have MY room!” (1)

Well, little Harold turned out to be a very wise young man.  He simply would not turn his back (or shut his door) on the soon to be born liberator and King.

What about you? Jesus is no longer with us in human form. He has departed spaceship earth. But before our liberator ascended back into timelessness, he promised to be with us always in Spirit form and to one day physically return again.

The Newer Testament writer John recorded these words spoken to him by Jesus in a vision. They are found in the last section of the bible known as The Book of Revelation,

20“See, I stand knocking at the door. If anyone listens to my voice and opens the door, I will go into his house…”  Revelation 3:20 (Phillips)

Jesus paid a visit to this tiny spec of a world in the vastness of the universe that he created to seek and to rescue a lost and stranded people. He’d like to salvage you.  Will you be like Herald and offer him your room?  His Spirit wants to move into your house… your spiritual house.

(Knock, knock.)  Do you hear what I hear?  (Knock, knock.)  He’s waiting.  Answer the door.

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

(1) © Ron Hutchcraft

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 ―
A long time ago in a stable far, far away…

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

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 divine nature of an exceptional child who was born in fulfillment of the divine will of God. 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. Jesus lived on the earth for about 30 years before embarking on His mission – to seek out and salvage His 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 has lost its legitimate meaning for most of humanity.  Today, when a random sampling of the general public 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.

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, as Christians, we attach these crowning designations to Jesus we’re acknowledging that He is infinitely greater than anyone 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 Him. It is also why we are willing to obey His word.

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 Him. 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.

But 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 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 made 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 fears 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 next week)

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:
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