Receiving Hope for Christmas

Well, we all made it through another Christmas. What, in these difficult times, should we really take from the Christmas season? I am reminded of a story in Luke that happened just after the birth of Christ. Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem according to Hebrew tradition to dedicate him to the Lord. There was a man there by the name of Simeon. He was a very old priest who had served God his whole life. It happened to be his time to serve in the temple on the very day Jesus was brought in for dedcation. Isn’t it strange how those coincidences seem to happen to faithful people?

Simeon had a promise from God. God told him he would not die until he had seen the “Consolation of Israel.” This was a common term for the Messiah and at this time many people were looking for Him. You see they were living in trying times as well. They were under occupation by a foreign power. Their culture and religion were under threat. They were at the economic mercy of their conquerors and they were occupied by the most powerful army in the world. They were looking for a solution to their problems and most believed that God would send a deliverer like Moses to once again lead them out of captivity.

Most people in Israel had no idea the Messiah had been born. A few knew something special had happened, but they did not understand the significance of the birth of this baby. Herod understood but saw Him as a threat. Once Jesus started His ministry as an adult, many did not believe in Him because he was not the military deliverer they had expected. Simeon was different. He knew by the Spirit of God that this newborn baby was the only hope for Israel. He saw what others could not. Listen to his comment upon seeing Jesus.

Luke2:29-32 “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.”

Simeon saw Jesus as the hope of the world when most saw nothing at all. I want to encourage you today to use the celebration of Christ’s birth as a focal point for renewed hope for your life. Jesus was the hope of mankind when He was born, during His ministry and in His sacrifice. He is still the hope of mankind in the midst of our day. If God would not leave us in our sin, but sent His only begotten son, He will not leave you today. Choose to be like Simeon and see what others cannot.

What should we take from the Christmas season? Hope, the knowledge that, with Jesus in our lives, anything is possible.

Christmas and the Power of Choice

Hebrews 2:14-16

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.  (KJV)

Christmas is about a lot of things, but one thing we do not usually think of is choice.  This verse in Hebrews would not be considered a Christmas scripture, but in a real sense it is what Christmas is all about.  This verse describes a choice made by God for us.  God created man to be His children.  The fall of man in Genesis chapter 3 tells us of another choice made by Adam and Eve.  They chose to disobey God and as a result sin passed on all mankind.  (Read Romans chapter 5.)  This left God with a dilemma.  He loved His children, but their disobedience set something into motion that could not be ignored. 

God is pure and holy.  He, by nature, cannot simply “sweep this under the rug.”  It must be dealt with, but the payment for man’s sin was death.  Not just physical death but something called spiritual death which simply defined is eternal separation from God.  Man has no choice in this matter.  More clearly his choice has been made for him by his “father” Adam.  (Again read Romans 5.)  It would seem that God has no choice either.  His holiness demands the sin be paid for.  His love however cannot accept this as the only choice.  Since He is, after all, God He simply created another choice.

He choose to partake of “flesh and blood”.  Translation; He was conceived in the womb of a virgin by the Holy Spirit and was born just like every other human being who has ever been born.  God chose to become human.  This began a process that culminated with him taking on the nature of man brought upon him by Adam’s sin in the garden of Eden.  God in the person of Jesus Christ chose to die for us. 

Why is this so important?  Because the choice God made gave us a choice as well.  We can choose to remain identified with Adam and pay for the nature he earned for us with his disobedience, or we can choose to identify with the choice God made beginning in the manger and ending in the cross.  If we chose the latter we will eternally partake of the nature of Jesus and the future He earned for us on the cross.  I don’t know about you, but I thank God for the choice Christmas represents and the eternal gift it provides for me.