The meaning of Christmas is found in Easter
This is Christmas Eve. Tomorrow we celebrate the greatest gift ever given by giving gifts to our loved ones.
To many the meaning of Christmas has been lost in all the stuff we give. Many don’t even consider why it is we celebrate this Holy Day.
Christmas is not a holiday that we celebrate like others. What it is is the day we celebrate the fact that Jesus the Holy Son of God came to the earth born as a little child.
As we look at Luke 2:21-52 we will see that Mary and Joseph didn’t fully understand God’s purpose in the birth of Jesus.
As we read this passage consider these words “amazed” “pondered” and “treasured”.
Luke 2:21-52 J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)
21 At the end of the eight days, the time came for circumcising the child and he was called Jesus, the name given to him by the angel before his conception.
22-23 When the “purification” time, stipulated by the Law of Moses, was completed, they brought Jesus to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. This was to fulfil a requirement of the Law—‘Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord’.
24 They also offered the sacrifice prescribed by the Law—‘A pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons’.
25-32 In Jerusalem was a man by the name of Simeon. He was an upright man, devoted to the service of God, living in expectation of the “salvation of Israel”. His heart was open to the Holy Spirit, and it had been revealed to him that he would not die before he saw the Lord’s Christ. He had been led by the Spirit to go into the Temple, and when Jesus’ parents brought the child in to have done to him what the Law required, he took him up in his arms, blessed God, and said—“At last, Lord, you can dismiss your servant in peace, as you promised! For with my own eyes I have seen your salvation which you have made ready for every people—a light to show truth to the Gentiles and bring glory to your people Israel.”
33-35 The child’s father and mother were still amazed at what was said about him, when Simeon gave them his blessing. He said to Mary, the child’s mother, “This child is destined to make many fall and many rise in Israel and to set up a standard which many will attack—for he will expose the secret thoughts of many hearts. And for you ... your very soul will be pierced by a sword.”
36-38 There was also present, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher, who was a prophetess. She was a very old woman, having had seven years’ married life and was now a widow of eighty-four. She spent her whole life in the Temple and worshipped God night and day with fastings and prayers. She came up at this very moment, praised God and spoke about Jesus to all those in Jerusalem who were expecting redemption.
39-40 When they had completed all the requirements of the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew up and became strong and full of wisdom. And God’s blessing was upon him.
41-48 Every year at the Passover festival Jesus’ parents used to go to Jerusalem. When he was twelve years old they went up to the city as usual for the festival. When it was over they started back home, but the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, without his parents’ knowledge. They went a day’s journey assuming that he was somewhere in their company, and then they began to look for him among their relations and acquaintances. They failed to find him, however, and turned back to the city, looking for him as they went. Three days later, they found him—in the Temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. All those who heard him were astonished at his powers of comprehension and at the answers that he gave. When Joseph and Mary saw him, they could hardly believe their eyes, and his mother said to him, “Why have you treated us like this, my son? Here have your father and I been very worried, looking for you everywhere!”
49 And Jesus replied, “But why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
50-52 But they did not understand his reply. Then he went home with them to Nazareth and was obedient to them. And his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And as Jesus continued to grow in body and mind, he grew also in the love of God and of those who knew him.
Imagine as Jesus was growing up many times Mary looking back at Simeon’s words, “This child is destined to make many fall and many rise in Israel and to set up a standard which many will attack—for he will expose the secret thoughts of many hearts. And for you ... your very soul will be pierced by a sword.”
And then Mary watching these words unfold as jesus calls His disciples and preaching the kingdom of God.
The scribes and pharisees attacked His words, and tried to set traps so they could condemn Him.
Many in the crowds came to see a spectacle. Many came because of the miracles they heard about.
Even so there were those The Father called to Jesus who understood that He had the words of eternal life.
As we near the end of Jesus ministry He tells the disciples straight out what was coming.
Luke 18:31-34J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)
31-33 Then Jesus took the twelve on one side and spoke to them, “Listen to me. We are now going up to Jerusalem and everything that has been written by the prophets about the Son of Man will come true. For he will be handed over to the heathen, and he is going to be jeered at and insulted and spat upon, and then they will flog and kill him. But he will rise again on the third day.”
34 But they did not understand any of this, His words were quite obscure to them and they had no idea of what he meant.
So at the height of Jesus ministry with the crowds getting bigger and bigger and Lazarus a living testimony to Jesus power Caiaphas said “it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” John 11:50
And with that the plot to crucify Jesus was born.
You know this has all the makings of a greek tragedy except what happens next.
John 20:1-10 J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)
20 1-2 But on the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala arrived at the tomb, very early in the morning, while it was still dark, and noticed that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. At this she ran, found Simon Peter and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don’t know where they have put him.”
3-10 Peter and the other disciple set off at once for the tomb, the two of them running together. The other disciple ran faster than Peter and was the first to arrive at the tomb. He stooped and looked inside and noticed the linen cloths lying there but did not go in himself. Hard on his heels came Simon Peter and went straight into the tomb. He noticed that the linen cloths were lying there, and that the handkerchief, which had been round Jesus’s head, was not lying with the linen cloths but was rolled up by itself, a little way apart. Then the other disciple, who was the first to arrive at the tomb, came inside as well, saw what had happened and believed. (They did not yet understand the scripture which said that he must rise from the dead.) So the disciples went back again to their homes.
Isaiah 53:4-6 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
6 All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.
The resurrection is the final proof that The Father accepted what Jesus did on the cross.
In very simple terms this is what Jesus did.
I am a sinner. Everyone here must understand that. Many would say nobody is perfect, and they would be right.
This can never be an excuse because God says in order to get to heaven you must be perfect.
So what hope is there?
The hope is in the exchange God worked out on the cross.
I come to Him empty with nothing but my sins. He gives me His righteousness and takes my sins.
He pays the penalty and am made right with God because it is Jesus’ righteousness in me that makes me new before God.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.