This date however does not signify the actual date of birth of Jesus. It was arbitrarily chosen to coincide with the passing of the Winter Solstice in the Northern hemisphere, this being the first day there that the hours of daylight become measurably longer than the night darkness - thus symbolizing the triumph of Light over Darkness.
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Being based on what is a natural phenomenon, it is understandable that this date is also celebrated by many other belief systems and cultures as their “Festival of Lights”.
For Christians, however, this symbolism holds a special significance regarding the birth-of-Jesus-Christ.
We read in the Gospel of John 1: 1-14 NLT:
“In the beginning the word already existed."
"The Word, was with God, and the Word, was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”
“God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.”
“He came into the very world that he created, but the world did not recognize him. He came to his own people , and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn – not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but birth that comes from God.”
“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.”
We find the Son of God depicted here as the Creator of all life-and-matter!
Shepherds Called As Witnesses
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Traditionally, the inspiring story of the birth-of-jesus-christ as we read it in the Gospel of Luke 2:1-39 steals the limelight. Every Christmas we re-read and re-enact the familiar tale of Joseph, with Mary in her final stages of pregnancy, desperately and vainly seeking lodging and eventually having to settle for a corner in a stable.
Here Mary gives birth to the Baby Jesus, after which an angel, accompanied by a heavenly chorus, appeares to shepherds in the field to announce the birth of the Messiah and instructing them to find the child lying in a manger wrapped in swaddling cloths.
This is how our Lord entered this world. Nowhere to stay, and the only witnesses some shepherds - people with a status so low that their tetimony was not allowed as evidence in Jewish courts of the time!
Concerning the birth-of-jesus-christ, however, I would like us to turn our attention to that manger and focus on the new-born Baby Jesus lying there. He has just gone through the excruciating and painful experience of physical birth.
So frail, tiny, and helpless! Completely disorientated – just like any other human baby that has ever been born! Having to cope with breathing on his own and learning to suck mother’s milk from Mary’s breast. No longer being fed now through her placenta as had been the case for the past nine months. His little eyelids probably still closed, and litlle fingers clenching and unclenching.
How can we reconcile this utterly helpless Baby Jesus with John’s depiction of “the Word, the Son of God and all powerful Creator of everything that exists”, becoming human and living amongst us?
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The birth-of-jesus-christ is the Ultimate Divine Paradox! This little Baby Jesus is incomprehensibly, at the same time, both completely human and also fully God! This is a truth we are incapable of even beginning to comprehend, yet it is the cornerstone of our faith and of Jesus’ own ministry!
This little Baby Jesus could not know it yet, but he has entered this world on a deadly serious rescue mission that will ultimately lead to his crucifixion and death. We read in Hebrews 2:14-15 NLT:
“Because God’s children are human beings – made of flesh and blood – the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.”
Wouldn’t it be fascinating if we could learn how this little Baby Jesus, in the process of growing up, gradually became aware of his being God as well? This surely must have been a gradual process of increasing insight and awareness that we can’t even begin to understand, tested by his ordeal and temptation in the desert, until he would eventually be able to say what we read in John 14:8-9 NLT:
“Philip said, “Lord, show us the father, and we will be satisfied.”
“Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Any one who has seen me has seen the Father. So why are you asking me to show him to you?”
To paraphrase Philip Yancey regarding the birth-of-jesus-christ:
“God wanted to know what it actually felt like to be inside a human skin, so he did so through the incarnation of Jesus Christ!”
While we contemplate this glorious truth during this season, I wish you all a truly blessed Christmas.
Shalom and God Bless us all!
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