Jesus… The Reason for the Season
[The Chronological account of Jesus birth can be downloaded birth below via pdf or epub]
Today, I want to talk about the True Reason for the Christmas Season.
Every year when Christmas rolls around, our society takes it further and further away from what it really is.
This year, I have heard people say that Christmas is a time to celebrate friends and family, its a time to give and receive, its a time to remember a man names Saint Nicholas (a.k.a. Santa Claus) and for people to get a bunch of stuff they may or may not need.
The Pew Research Center did a survey from all around America about Christmas. Heres what they found:
- 9 out of 10 Americans Celebrate Christmas.
- Less than 1/2 of those who celebrate Christmas view it as a religious holiday.
- More than 1/3 of people see it as a cultural celebration rather than a celebration of faith.
- 8 out of 10 non-Christians that celebrate Christmas see it as an American Cultural Holiday similar to Thanksgiving or Memorial Day.
- Less than 60% of people 65 or older view Christmas as a religious holiday.
- And less than 39% of people in their 20’s see it as a faith based holiday.
These are sad facts!
In the 19th century, Christmas has gone from celebrating the birth of the one true king… Jesus, to the biggest commercial holiday of the year. People in the marketing and advertising industries have done a really bang up job of exploiting Christmas to make people spend Billions of dollars every year buying things for other people that they really don’t need.
If you watch Television, most of the programs that mention Christmas portray it as a time for family, friends, helping the needy, good food, children’s programs, winter sports, love, peace, happiness, and making sure we are on Santa’s Nice List so we can get stuff we may or may not need.
Christmas isn’t about idolizing Santa Claus, getting stuff, or what ever else people have turned it into. Christmas is truly about reflecting on and celebrating the birth of the King of Majesty… Jesus.
Throughout the entire Old Testament, we read the history of God’s people. We read about how they worshiped and feared God, then became arrogant and disobedient causing them to fall away from God. We read about their struggles during their time away from God, and see how God sent them Judges and Prophets to perform miraculous & powerful acts to invite the people to come back and worship the one True God who loves and cares for them. We also read how God promises them a hope and a future through a coming savior.
The Old Testament is full of stories that reveal the prophecy of the coming of Jesus. A good lot of these prophecies come from the Book of Isaiah.
During the reign of King Ahaz, the 14th king of Judah, God called Isaiah the prophet to invite God’s people to come back to a relationship with God & worship Him.
When Isaiah was with King Ahaz, he prophesied the virgin birth in chapter 7 verse 14:
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
In chapter 9 verses 6-7 he speaks of the type of ministry Jesus will have:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
Not only does Isaiah prophecy about Jesus, he also tells how to worship Him in chapter 25 verse 1:
O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.
Today, because of the historical and eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ life we read in the New Testament, we have seen the Old Testaments prophecies full-filled. That’s why we celebrate Christmas!
We celebrate Christmas to remember the Birth of our Savior, to worship him, to look forward to His glorious second coming, and to tell others about Him.
But how do we keep Christmas about Christ when it is becoming less and less about the birth of Christ, and becoming more and more about a commercial holiday for retailers?
Its really simple. Our job as Christians is to tell our children, grandchildren, and the younger generations the story that forever changed the world. We have to keep the birth of our Savior as the center of the Christmas season, and ban together to tell everyone we can about the true History of Christmas… the birth of Jesus.
In order to help us remember the true reason for the season, I have compiled the chronological account of Jesus’ birth found in the Gospels. I want to take the rest of our time together, to simply read this majestic and powerful account of Jesus’ birth from a revised version of the Message Bible. You can also download a pdf or the zip file with the epub version using the links below:
The Story of Christmas
Luke 1:26-38 “Gabriel visits Mary”
One day, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name was Mary. Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her: “Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, beautiful inside and out! God is with you.”
She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. But the angel assured her, “Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.
“He will be great, be called ‘Son of the Highest.’ The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; He will rule Jacob’s house forever — no end, ever, to his kingdom.”
Mary said to the angel, “But how? I’ve never slept with a man.”
The Angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Highest hover over you; Therefore, the child you bring to birth will be called Holy, Son of God.”
The Angel continued, “And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, as old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months pregnant! Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.”
And Mary said, “Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say.”
And the Angel Left her.
Matthew 1:18-25 “Gabriel visits Joseph”
Joseph, Mary’s fiancé, discovered she was pregnant. Joseph, a noble man, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.
While he was trying to figure out a way to end their engagement, he had a dream. In his dream, God’s angel Gabriel, spoke to him: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus — ‘God saves’ — because he will save his people from their sins.”
This will bring the Prophet Isaiah’s prophecy to be fulfilled: “Watch for this — a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son; They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”).”
Then Joseph woke up, and did exactly what Gabriel commanded in the dream: he married Mary. But he waited to consummate the marriage until she had the baby.
Luke 1:39-56 “Mary visits Elizabeth”
Not long after that, Mary traveled to a town in Judah in the hill country where Zachariah and her cousin Elizabeth lived. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby in her womb leaped. She was filled with the Holy Spirit, and sang out exuberantly, “You’re so blessed among women, and the babe in your womb, also blessed! And why am I so blessed that the mother of my Lord visits me? The moment the sound of your greeting entered my ears, the babe in my womb skipped like a lamb for sheer joy. Blessed woman, who believed what God said, believed every word would come true!”
And Mary said, “I’m bursting with God-news; I’m dancing the song of my Savior God. God took one good look at me, and look what happened — I’m the most fortunate woman on earth! What God has done for me will never be forgotten, the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others. His mercy flows in wave after wave on those who are in awe before him. He bared his arm and showed his strength, scattered the bluffing braggarts. He knocked tyrants off their high horses, pulled victims out of the mud. The starving poor sat down to a banquet; the callous rich were left out in the cold. He embraced his chosen child, Israel; he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high. It’s exactly what he promised, beginning with Abraham and right up to now.”
After staying with Elizabeth a few months, Mary returned to her own home.
Luke 2:1-7 “The Birth of Jesus”
About that time, Ceasar Agustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Roman Empire. This was the first census since Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.
When they arrived in Bethlehem, there was no room for them in the Inn, so they made due with what was available… they camped out with animals in a nearby stable.
While they were there, the time came for Mary to give birth. She Gave birth to a son, her first born. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger.
Luke 2:8-20 “The First Visitors — Sheepherders”
There were sheepherders camping nearby. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, world wide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”
At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises: “Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.”
As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Lets get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing for them. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.
Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!
Luke 2:21-38 “Jesus Presented at the Temple”
When the eighth day arrived, the day of circumcision, Joseph remembered what Gabriel had told him in his dream, so he named the child Jesus.
Then when the days stipulated by Moses for purification were complete, they took Jesus to Jerusalem to offer him to God as commanded in God’s Law: “Every male who opens the womb shall be a holy offering to God,” and also to sacrifice the “pair of doves or two young pigeons” prescribed in God’s Law.
In Jerusalem at the time, there was a man, Simeon by name, a good man, a man who lived in the prayerfull expectancy of help for Israel. And the Holy Spirit was on him. The Holy Spirit had shown him that he would see the Messiah of God before he died. Led by the Spirit, he entered the Temple. As the parents of the child Jesus brought him into carry out the rituals of the Law, Simeon took him into his arms and blessed God:
“God, you can now release your servant; release me in peace as you promised. With my own eyes I’ve seen your salvation; it’s now out in the open for everyone to see: A God-revealing light to the non-Jewish nations, and of glory for your people Israel.
Jesus’ father and mother were speechless with surprise at these words. Simeon went on to bless them, and said to Mary his mother, “This child marks both the failure and the recovery of many in Israel, A figure misunderstood and contradicted — the pain of a sword-thrust through you — But the rejection will force honesty, as God reveals who they really are.”
Anna the prophetess was also there, a daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher. She was by now a very old woman. She had been married seven years and a widow for eighty-four. She never left the Temple area, worshiping night and day with her fasting and prayer. At the very time Simeon was praying, she showed up, broke into an anthem of praise to God, and talked about the child to all who were waiting expectantly for the freeing of Jerusalem.
When they finished everything required by God in the Law, they returned to Galilee and their own town, Nazareth. God placed a star in the sky over where He lived. There the child grew strong in body and wise in spirit. And the grace of God was on him.
Matthew 2:1-12 “The Second Visitors — Magi”
Sometime after Jesus’ birth — during Herod’s rule — a band of Magi (scholars and astronomers) arrived in Jerusalem from the East. They asked around, “Where can we find and pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews? We observed a star in the sky that signaled his birth. We’re on a pilgrimage to worship him.”
When word of their inquiry got to Herod, he was terrified — and not Herod alone, but most of Jerusalem as well. Herod lost no time. He gathered all the high priests and religion scholars in the city together and asked, “Where is the Messiah suppose to be born?”
They told him, “Bethlehem, Judah territory. The prophet Micah wrote it plainly: “It’s you, Bethlehem, in Judah’s land, no longer bringing up the rear. From you will come the leader who will shepherd-rule my people, my Israel.”
Herod then arranged a secret meeting with the scholars from the East. Pretending to be as devout as they were, he got them to tell him exactly when the birth-announcement star appeared. Then he told them the prophecy about Bethlehem, and said, “Go find this child. Leave no stone unturned. As soon as you find him, send word and I’ll join you at once in your worship.”
Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the sky before. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: they were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time!
They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts; gold, frankincense, myrrh.
In a dream, they were warned not to report back to Herod. So they worked out another route, left the territory without being seen, and returned to their own country.
Matthew 2:13-23 “Escape and Return to Nazareth”
After the Magi were gone, Gabriel showed up again in Joseph’s dream and commanded, “Get Up. Take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt. Stay until further notice. Herod is on the hunt for this child, and wants to kill him.”
Joseph obeyed. He got up, took the child and his mother under cover of darkness. They were out of town and well on their way by daylight. They lived in Egypt until Herod’s death. This Egyptian exile fulfilled what Hosea had preached: “I called my son out of Egypt.”
Herod, when he realized that the Magi had tricked him, flew into a rage. He commanded the murder of every little boy two years old and under who lived in Bethlehem and its surrounding hills. (He determined that age from information he’d gotten from the Magi.) That’s when Jeremiah’s sermon was fulfilled: “A sound was heard in Ramah, weeping and much lament. Rachel weeping for her children, Rachel refusing all solace, Her children gone, dead and buried.”
Sometime later, when Herod died, Gabriel appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt: “Up, take the child and his mother and return to Israel. All those out to murder the child are dead.”
Joseph obeyed. He got up, took the child and his mother, and reentered Israel. When he heard, through, that Archelaus has succeeded his father, Herod, as king in Judea, he was afraid to go there. But then Joseph was directed in a dream to go to the hills of Galilee. On arrival, he settled in the village of Nazareth. This move was fulfillment of the prophetic words. “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
From that time until he started his public ministry, Jesus grew strong in body and wise in spirit. And the grace of God was on him.
During this Christmas, lets not let Jesus blend into the background by making all the other stuff matter more. Lets keep Christ as the center of Christmas, & let Him be the reason we celebrate with our family and friends with a giving spirit.
Adam & Bethany are Assembly of God World Missionaries to the International Media Ministries where they “Tell the story that changes lives, multiply the storytellers, and get Jesus on every screen possible in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. Will You please prayerfully consider partnering with them through prayer and financial support.