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 29 – Wise Men worship Jesus

starofbethlehem4

And there it was – the star they had seen in the east! It led the Wise Men until it came and stopped above the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed beyond measure. Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary His mother, and falling to their knees, they worshiped Him.  Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their own country by another route.
Matthew 2:9-12

Let us worship Jesus the way the Wise Men did. They gave Him their treasures which they had brought with them on their trip, fully expecting to see the Messiah. They believed, they sought Him, they recognized who He was, they humbled themselves, and they obeyed God rather than man. They were truly wise, and we can be also.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction. – Proverbs 1:7

* Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 27 – Simeon and Anna in the temple

Rembrandt painting of Simeon at the Temple, painted in 1631

The first revelation that the Messiah had been born was told to the shepherds. Next, before the Wise Men arrived, the Messiah baby was recognized by Simeon and Anna in the temple. Mary and Joseph had traveled to Jerusalem, about six miles north of Bethlehem, to present the baby Jesus to the Lord. Luke tells us their story.

When the days of their purification (40 days) according to the law of Moses were finished, Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (just as it is written in the law of the Lord: Every firstborn male will be dedicated to the Lord) and to offer a sacrifice (according to what is stated in the law of the Lord: a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons) – for a poor family.

There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israel’s consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple complex. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for Him what was customary under the law, Simeon took Him up in his arms, praised God, and said:

Now, Master,
You can dismiss Your servant in peace,
as You promised.
For my eyes have seen Your salvation.
You have prepared it
in the presence of all peoples—
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and glory to Your people Israel.

His father and mother were amazed at what was being said about Him. Then Simeon blessed them and told His mother Mary: “Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposed— and a sword will pierce your own soul (testifying that Mary would suffer at seeing her son’s crucifixion)—that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (those of the Pharisees, Sadducees and others).

There was also a prophetess, Anna, a daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well along in years, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and was a widow for 84 years. She did not leave the temple complex, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers. At that very moment, she came up and began to thank God and to speak about Him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

– from Luke chapter 2

May you get to know this Jesus, the One that was sent as the Messiah to all the world.

* Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 24 – The birth of Jesus

jesus-joseph-and-mary

On a quiet unsuspecting night, the Savior came into the world. And the world has never been the same.

While Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough—because there was no room for them at the lodging place. – Luke 2:6-7

As the Christmas rush begins to quieten down, the stores are closing, the gifts are bought, and the world prepares to stop for a day, remember what this simple but profound birth means to our world.

No matter what you may be dealing with this Christmas season, and so many of us are, I pray that you will stop for a few minutes on this Christmas Eve and ask Jesus to surround you with His love and peace and hope. For Jesus truly is the reason for the holiday.

* Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 22 – Names of Jesus

nativity-trail

The trip for Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem was about 70-90 miles through mountainous terrain on foot. It would have taken them about 8-10 days to complete, while carrying all of their food, water, blankets and supplies. They were poor and had no place to stay once they were there. I’m sure they were wondering would happen once they got there. But were they also thinking of the earlier prophecies from Micah 5:2 that said a Savior would be born in Bethlehem, or from Isaiah 7:14 that said he would be born of a virgin?

As we wait for the birth of Jesus in the coming days, here are a few of the names and attributes that will be given to Jesus later in his ministry.

Good Shepherd – John 10:11
Light that shines in the darkness – John 1:5
Immanuel, God is with us – Matthew 1:23
Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world – John 1:29
The Word – John 1:1
Prince of Peace – John 14:27

May you experience the Peace, Light, and Good Shepherd of the One who can take away all your sin and give you a new life in Christ.

* Merry Christmas *