31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 30 – Three prophecies complete the birth story of the Messiah

joseph-jesus-as-a-child

The Wise Men finished worshiping the child Jesus and departed for home, being warned in a dream not to return by way of King Herod. Joseph was also told by an angel of the Lord to take the Child and his mother and flee to Egypt by night, because Herod wanted to destroy the child Jesus.

That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet (Hosea), saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
Matthew 2:15

When Herod found out that he had been deceived by the Wise Men, he was very angry and put to death all male children in Bethlehem under the age of two, trying to kill the one who was Jesus.

Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted,
Because they are no more.”
Matthew 2:17-18

When Herod was dead, the angel appeared again to Joseph and told him to take the Child and his mother to the land of Israel. And also being warned by God not to return to Judea where Herod’s son was reigning, Joseph and his family went to the region of Galilee, to the city of Nazareth.

That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
Matthew 2:23

Nazareth was considered a lowly area with not much of a reputation. While there are no written prophecies about Jesus becoming a Nazarene, it was most likely meant as a description for someone who would be despised. The prophecies in Psalms and Isaiah describe this:

A reproach of men, and despised by the people.
All those who see Me ridicule Me;
They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
“He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him;
Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”
Psalm 22:6-8

He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Isaiah 53:3

 Jesus understands. He has been there as a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He can help you overcome anything.

* Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 26 – The shepherds tell their story

shepherds-with-mary-joseph

Christmas Day may be over but the Christmas story is just beginning. From the start of Genesis when sin was first introduced into the world, God has been telling us about the Savior. Not a day has gone by where there was not hope of a Messiah to come. It started with the Abrahamic covenant where God promised Abraham that all of the world would be blessed through his offspring. Then the Davidic covenant is where God promised that the Messiah would come from the line of David. Next, the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and Micah prophesied about the coming of the Messiah 700 years before it happened. And now we have the shepherds testimony.

And the shepherds came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.  Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them (from the angels) concerning this Child.  And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
Luke 2:16-20

May you believe in this season of miracles, from the virgin birth to the angels visiting the shepherds, and ponder them in your heart just like Mary. For with God, the Creator of our world, nothing is impossible – then or now.

* Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 23 – Celebrations

Christmas Tree and Forest --- Image by © Jim Craigmyle/CORBIS

“I am Yahweh who sets you apart, the One who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God; I am Yahweh.” – Leviticus 22:32-33

God is to be revered and holy, but God also wants us to have joyful celebrations so that we may remember His good deeds and provisions, and to pass those traditions down to our families. God gave the Israelites many festivals and holy days in the Old Testament to set them apart as a people and to proclaim the glory of God to all. There were festivals for Passover, the Festival of Trumpets, the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Day of Atonement, Purim, and the Festival of Firstfruits just to name a few. Jesus also continued many of those traditions, and much of our tradition and culture today have those same roots.

The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated as a holiday on December 25th was in 336 AD, during the time of the first Christian Roman Emperor, Constantine.

The 16th century German preacher Martin Luther was thought to be the first one to bring a Christmas tree into the house for decoration. He said that seeing a star on the tree reminded him of Jesus, who left the stars of heaven to come to earth at Christmas.

The first Christmas card was started in the United Kingdom in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole who was interested in how the new public post office could be used by everyone.

The poinsettia flower and leaves are thought of as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem which led the Wise Men to Jesus. The red colored leaves symbolize the blood of Christ. The white leaves represent his purity.

St. Nicholas was a Bishop in 4th century AD in Asia Minor, now called Turkey. His parents died when he was young and left him a lot of money. He had a reputation for helping the poor and giving secret gifts to people who needed it. What a legacy!

The custom of giving and receiving presents reminds us of the presents given to Jesus by the Wise Men – gold, frankincense and myrrh. And of course, the biggest present of all is Jesus! God loved the world so much, that he gave his one and only Son, so that whoever believes in him may not be lost but have eternal life. John 3:16

May you remember the origins and traditions of the Christmas holiday as a way to celebrate the joy and life that comes from God.

* Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 21 – Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem

mary-joseph-donkey

Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant. – Luke 2:4-5

Mary and Joseph are both descendants of King David. Joseph is from the line of David’s son, King Solomon, and a legal heir to the throne. Mary is from the line of Nathan, David’s other son, and therefore her biological children are blood-line heirs to the throne of David.

Both Mary and Joseph are from Nazareth in Galilee but they travel to Bethlehem in Judea to be registered, as decreed by Caesar Augustus. This is why Jesus is often referred to as the Nazarene from Galilee though he was born in the small town of Bethlehem.

All of this fulfills the prophecies as written 700 years earlier.

May you believe this Christmas, in the God who came down to earth to dwell among his creation, and to teach us how to love, to forgive, and to show us the way to eternal salvation.

* Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 19 – An angel visits Joseph

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When Joseph heard the news that Mary was with child, he considered divorcing her from their engagement. But that was not God’s plan. This becomes the third time an angel appears announcing the baby Jesus. The first time was to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, the forerunner to Christ. Then the angel appears to Mary, and now Joseph. And the angels are not finished yet with this Heavenly celebration!

Matthew 1:20-22,24
But after Joseph had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”

When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her but did not know her intimately until she gave birth to a son. And he named Him Jesus.

May you find the God of joy and celebration this Christmas season.

* Merry Christmas *