As all of us can tell by looking around, the Christmas
season is now upon us.We look at these
things and they remind us of our long lists of things we must do and get done
before the “Big Day” on December 25th.
Naturally, the days leading up to the 25th are
crammed with preparations of all kinds and the time flies by so fast.There are not enough hours in the day!By the time December 25th arrives,
most of us are flat-out exhausted and happy when the day is finally over.I mean, all this
preparation and build-up for December 25th?The entire month and more is spent focusing
on this one holiday: traveling, shopping, cooking, partying, eating, wrapping
gifts, caroling, cleaning, decorating, you name it.And much of this (in spite of the enormous
consumption of time, energy, and money) gives us the “warm fuzzy” feelings we
have in being near our loved ones.
So that’s why we
continue this madness we call “Christmas” every December.At the end of this whirlwind of living in a
fantasy world and being surrounded by the glitter and the romance of the
season, come January we are up to our ears in debt from overspending, getting
the house back to normal and trying to recover from exhaustion.But, unfortunately for some of us, it is only
a painful reminder of the loss and/or the lack of relationships which can
affect us deeply at this time of the year that enhance our feelings of
unworthiness or isolation, and we are therefore anxious to have the Holiday season
over with quickly.No wonder we are so
depressed this time of year!
But what is Christmas really all about?Are any of the above descriptions
biblical?We sometimes come together
during the Christmas season to celebrate anything but our Savior, Jesus Christ,
who should be the whole focus of the Season.So, I would like us to examine what Christmas really is relative to
Jesus’ birth, His mission, what He accomplished for us on the Cross, His
resurrection from the dead, and as God’s Eternal Gift to us.
Jesus: His Birthday. (Luke 2:11) Was
Jesus born on December 25th? The answer is NO. But we celebrate the birth of Christ on
this day as a tradition.This
traditional date was mainly agreed upon by Catholics and others around the
third to fourth century AD.However,
while the world at large and Christendom has recognized December 25th
as the traditional date of Christ’s birth, it is ironic that His real or
probable birth date is not even given a glancing thought by the leaders of
modern religion.I wonder why that
is?It is interesting that Jesus
has no relationship to Christmas as we know it.Here are some fascinating facts and
principles we should ponder about Jesus’ birth and His probable birthday,
because they really are spiritually significant when we study them.
tending their flocks. (Luke 2:8)Luke records that at the time of Christ’s birth, the shepherds were in
the fields tending their flocks at night.This was a common practice from April to October.During the rest of the year, the flocks were
sheltered.So why is this
shepherds and their flocks would not be abiding in the open fields in December.The temperature during this time can drop to
well below freezing, especially at night; and snow is common in Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
The Census described by Luke.
(Luke 2:1-7)For practicality purposes,
the census taking took place after the harvest season (September or October),
to make it easier for those paying their taxes to travel.It was also held this time of year so the
economy would not be adversely impacted.In these verses in Luke, it is recorded that while in Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to the Child Jesus
in a stable.He was born in the stable
because the town census was going on, and all the rooms were filled with other
out of town guests.Also, the Jewish
Feast of Tabernacles commenced in the month of Tisri
(September); thus there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:7)
The Birth of
John the Baptist.(Luke 1:5-17) John the Baptist and Jesus were relatives from
the same family.They were born six
months apart: John was born first, then Jesus arrived
six months later.John the Baptist’s
father, Zechariah, was a priest who served in the Temple.All the priests took turns serving by 24 divisions.Zechariah was of the division of Abijah (Luke 1:5,8).These turns began in the first month of the
Jewish calendar (1Chron. 27:2), March or April by our calendar.The turns rotated every week for six months,
then the cycle repeated again till the end of the year.Abijah was the
eighth division of the priesthood.According to this timing, Zechariah would serve the tenth week of the
Jewish year, because all divisions served during primary feast weeks of the
Jewish year. So all of the divisions of the priesthood would serve during
Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread (the third week of the year).
Likewise, all of the divisions of the priesthood would serve during the Feast
of Weeks or Pentecost (the ninth week). Thus, the eighth course of the priesthood
would end up serving on the tenth week of the year.
We know that Zechariah’s division
served in the Temple
twice a year.We do not know which two
shifts of service it was.Nine months
after one of the two dates John the Baptist was born; therefore, it would be
either March or September.If we assume
for a moment that Luke is recording Zechariah’s first shift of service for the
year, we will see it tends to be accurate as we discover John the Baptist’s and
Jesus’ births.So, Zechariah’s service would
be Sivan 12-18 (June 13-19).
Refer to Luke 1:23-25 for the
his service in the temple, Zechariah went home to his wife. The trip home (30
miles) would likely take at least 2 days.Due to the laws of separation (Leviticus 12:5; ,25), two
additional weeks have to be counted. We
will make a second assumption, that Elizabeth
conceived a child within a few days after Zechariah's return.
Allowing for this and going forward, a normal
pregnancy places the birth of John the Baptist at the time of the Passover
(Nisan 15). The Jews always looked for
Elijah to return on the day of Passover. To this very day there is an empty
chair and a table setting for Elijah whenever Passover is celebrated. Little
children also go to the door of the home and open it in anticipation of
Elijah's coming. The Old Testament prophets had said that God would send Elijah
before the coming of the Messiah (Malachi 3:1; 4:5-6). According to these
calculations John the Baptist was born at Passover. Remember the angel's words
to Zechariah? The angel said that John the Baptist was to come "in the
spirit and power of Elijah" (Luke ).
Elijah came at Passover!
Refer to Luke 1:26-36 for the following:
Luke tells us that Elizabeth was six months pregnant when the
angel Gabriel visited Mary. The beginning of Elizabeth's sixth month would have been the
celebration of the Jewish feast of Hanukkah, which occurs in December of our
modern calendar (the first day of Tebeth). Hanukkah (Chanukkah) is known as the "Feast of the Dedication"
(John ) because it is
connected with the dedication of the second Jewish temple and the rededication
of the temple after the Maccabean revolt. Mary was
being dedicated for a purpose of enormous magnitude: God's presence in an
earthly temple, i.e. a human body (John -21).
If Mary did conceive on Hanukkah, John the Baptist
would have been born three months later at Passover. And assuming a normal
pregnancy of 285 days, Jesus would have been born on the 15th day of Jewish
month of Tishri (September 29 by modern reckoning). This is significant because
it is the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot).
It is a high day, a special Sabbath, a time of great rejoicing.
Christ was begotten by the Holy
Spirit on December 25 and born on September 29th the following
The Feast of Tabernacles and Jesus
As you have seen, the birth of our Lord can be
reasonably shown to have occurred in the autumn of the year on the first day of
the Feast of Tabernacles. The Feast of Tabernacles is a joyful feast. Jewish
believers would build a tabernacle or booth known as a "sukkah" out of green tree branches. They would eat
their meals and sleep in this sukkah for eight days.
There are some very interesting connections in
Scripture with Jesus and aspects of the Feast of Tabernacles.
To introduce the nature and mission of Christ, John
in his Gospel employs the metaphor of the "booth" of the Feast of
Tabernacles. Christ, the Word who was
with God in the beginning (John 1:1), manifested Himself in this world in a
most tangible way, by pitching His tent in our midst: "And the Word became
flesh and tabernacled among us, full of grace and
truth; we have beheld his glory, as of the only Son from the Father" (John
).In seeking to describe the Messiahs first coming
to His people, John chose the imagery of the Feast of Booths since the feast
celebrates the dwelling of God among His people. This raises an interesting
question on whether or not John intended to link the birth of Jesus with the
The Circumcision of our Lord took place therefore
on the eighth day, the last day of the Feast (Oct. 6-7), the "Great Day of
the Feast" of John 7.37 ("Tabernacles" had eight days. The Feast
of Unleavened Bread had seven days, and Pentecost one. See Lev. 23).
The Feast of Sukkot
(Tabernacles) is called "the season of our joy" and "the feast
of the nations." With this in mind, in Luke it is written, "And the angel said unto them,
Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings [basar
in Hebrew; otherwise known as the gospel] of great joy [Sukkot
is called the 'season of our joy'], which shall be to all people [Sukkot is called 'the feast of the nations']." So, we
can see from this that the terminology the angel used to announce the birth of Yeshua (Jesus) were themes and messages associated with the
Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles).
As we have seen, the Feast of Tabernacles is called
variously "Season of Our Joy" and "Feast of the Nations."
It is also called "Feast of Lights".
Refer to John 1:6-9 for the following:
In these verses John refers to Jesus as "the
light"; and as we have also seen, verse 14 says that he "became flesh
and tabernacled [literal meaning of the Greek] among
us". These are two apparent references to the Feast of Tabernacles that
are associated with the coming of the Messiah.
The Word became flesh (December 25) and dwelt among
us (September 29).
The Festival of Michael and All Angels is
celebrated on September 29.
The year of Christ's birth
The Gospels record Jesus' birth as occurring during
the reign of Herod the Great.
5BC or 4BC
5BC - Herod's death is recorded by
Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus, Book 17, Chpt. 8) and occurred in the spring of 4 B.C. (New
Testament History, F.F. Bruce, Anchor Books, p.23). Therefore, Christ's birth
had to take place at least four years before the traditional date.
Now Herod was proclaimed king by the Romans at the 184th
Olympiad, which was a period of four years, at the end of which were held the
games that commenced the next period. The first Olympiad was during the period
of 776-772 B. C, and was reckoned as from Midsummer to Midsummer. The end of
the 184th Olympiad would therefore be Midsummer 40 B.C. According to the
celebrated historian Josephus, Herod actually reigned after the death of Antigonus in the Autumn of 37 B.C, and he frequently states
that over three years elapsed between the Roman Proclamation and the death of Antigonus.
Josephus counted his year from Nisan to Nisan, the
equivalent of our March, and he would therefore have counted the portion of the
first year of Herod’s reign before Nisan as being one whole year, and as he
states that Herod reigned 34 years after the death of Antigonus,
his reign terminated before the Passover of Nisan 3 B.C.
Josephus states that Herod burnt the Priest
Matthias and on the same night there was an eclipse of the moon. There is no
record whatever to show that such an eclipse of the moon, visible from Jerusalem during the
beginning of the year 3 B.C. ever took place, but a record does exist of such
an eclipse occurring during the night of March 12th to 13th in the year 4 B.C.
The Feast of the Passover in the year 4 B.C,
occurred on April 10th, which is barely a month after the eclipse, and we know
that Herod was then alive.
Josephus records that after the death of Herod, the
funeral preparations and the procession of the golden bier to Herodium, together with the period of mourning, amounted to
some five weeks. He also records that as the time for the holding of the Feast
of the Passover, following the funeral, approached, there was feasting and
rioting among the populace, and the authorities were
compelled to call out a regiment of soldiers to quell such rioters.
From this it is obvious that the death of Herod
must have occurred at the beginning of the year 3 B.C. as the eclipse of 4 B.C.
occurred within one month of the Passover of that year, and it has already been
shown that the period of time between Herod’s death and the Passover was about
ten weeks, so that the eclipse, death, burial, riots and Passover could not
possibly have taken place within the period of the same year.
The Jewish MegillahTaanith states that the death occurred on Sebat 1st or January 18, 3 B.C, and with this date the records of
Referring back to St. Matthew
2:19-23, it is recorded that another Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a
dream and told him to return to the land
of Israel, and that Joseph did take
Mary and the Babe to Nazareth.
states that Joseph and Mary went to Jerusalem
every year at the Feast of the Passover, and it is presumed that they attended
the one held on March 31st,
3 B.C, following the death of Herod.
Magi from the east
The Scriptures tell us that there were wise men
(scholars) who came from the east looking for the birth of the Messiah, saying
"we have seen his star in the east". Who were these scholars from the
east? Why were they looking for a Jewish Messiah?
Refer to Matthew 2:1-6 for the following:
was known as "the land to the east." At the time of the birth of
Jesus, the largest Jewish population was actually in Babylon,
not in Palestine.
Nearly five hundred years earlier, the entire nation of Judah had been carried away captive into Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar.
Only a small colony of Jews returned to Palestine
after sixty-three years of captivity. The greater number of them remained where
they had established homes in the land
The Greek for "wise men" is magoi. Daniel was referred to by this same title (Daniel
4:9). The word is equivalent to the Jewish term rabbi. It is very likely that
the wise men from the east were Jewish rabbis who had been anticipating the
coming of the Messiah because of Daniels seventy weeks prophecy [Daniel ]. They had spotted a new star in
the sky and took it to be a sign of the coming of the Messiah.
There is one time of the year when Jews would
typically look at the stars. That time was during the Festival of Tabernacles.
As we already said, Jewish believers would build a tabernacle or booth known as
a "sukkah" out of green tree branches. They
would eat their meals and sleep in this sukkah for
eight days. It was customary to leave a hole in the roof of the sukkah so that one could look at the stars. Jewish
"wise men" celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles would have noticed
the appearance of a new star.
The year of Jesus' birth
Jesus was born while Herod the Great was still
living (Matthew 2:1). Wise men appeared in Jerusalem asking about "one who has been
born king of the Jews?" Of course, this upset Herod, who had been given
that title by the Roman Senate. Herod talked to the wise men secretly and found
out from them the exact time the star had appeared (Matthew 2:7). The wise men
then journeyed to Bethlehem
and found Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in a house (Matthew ) and they bowed down and worshiped Jesus.
When the wise men did not return to give Herod a
report, "Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the wise men. He was
furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity
who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned
from the wise men" (Matthew 2:16).
This tells us that Jesus may have been born two
years before the appearance of the wise men and the death of Herod. Herod died
the spring of 4 B.C. Let's assume that the star appeared at Jesus' birth. Let's
also assume that Herod was already close to death when the wise men appeared.
It was the custom in ancient Israel
to count the years of one's age from the date of conception. Therefore, Herod
actually killed the children one year old and under according to the way that
age is calculated today. This would mean that Jesus had to have been born in 6
B.C. (if Jesus was one year old) or 5 B.C. (if Jesus was under one year and
Herod was just being extra careful).
This date for Jesus' birth fits with other Biblical
data such as Jesus being "about thirty years old" when He began his
ministry (Luke 3:23). From evidence given to us in John about the construction of the temple, we
know Jesus' ministry began in A.D. 26. Counting forward from 6 B.C. to A.D. 26
(one year has to be subtracted because there is no year zero) would make Jesus
31 years old when he began his ministry -- that is, about thirty years old.
Counting forward from 5 B.C. to A.D. 26 would make Jesus 30 years old when he
began his ministry. The birth years of 5 or 6 B.C. also fit with the best date
for the crucifixion, that is A.D. 30. The 5 B.C. date is reasonable if one assumes
that the wise men would want to come at once and the time for a journey from Babylon to Jerusalem
takes only four months.
A best guess for the birth of Jesus
from the Scriptures and history is September 29, 5 B.C.
The foregoing is not meant as
information set in stone.Different
people have come up with different explanations and dates on the birth of
Christ.But I do find the above
information very interesting as a historical guide as to the significant events
that were occurring or coinciding with Jesus’ birth.Knowing and picturing these events helps us
to have a better and more accurate understanding of Who our Savior really is
vs. what we have made Him out to be in our human traditions.
or Ministry.His mission was
several-fold: 1) to fulfill Old Testament prophecy about the coming
Messiah; 2) to show us the Father; 3) to heal the brokenhearted and
hopeless; 4) to be our Personal Savior.
(1)Old Testament prophecy fulfillment.The whole Bible is written about Jesus (as
a testament or testimony of Jesus) (Psalm 119:160; Matt. 11:3) and for Jesus
(to glorify Him). (John 17:1) It is written to edify (teach) us so that we may really
know Him. (John 17:3)In fact, the first
chapter of the Gospel of John declares that Jesus IS THE WORD,
that He came down from Heaven and that He was God in Flesh. (John 1:1-3,
14)Hundreds of Old Testament Messianic
prophecies about Christ have already come true.There are still more to be fulfilled, such as Christ’s Second
Coming.But it stands to reason that if hundreds of Old Testament prophecies
have already been fulfilled, that the rest certainly will be, too.What are the odds of hundreds of prophecies
being 100% fulfilled about one Person over a span of thousands of years by many
different writers?It is impossible,
unless we are talking about a work that was totally divine in inspiration;
namely, the Holy Bible.For those who arrogantly
claim that the Bible is a bunch of myths and fairy tales, they are willingly
ignorant of what the Bible contains and even more ignorant of the Savior, to
their own misfortune.
(2)Jesus showed us the Father. (John
14:8-21)He came to show us the heart
and mind of God through the Scriptures, yet He became just like us by humbling
Himself and being in subjection to God the Father while on earth. (Luke 2:51; John
5:19) In order to truly be able to bridge the gap between man and God, He had
to temporarily give up His glorious throne and come down to live like us for a
span of time. (John 6:62) That is why He is called Son of God and Son of
Man.As a man, He took on humility and
became subject to God the Father.As the
Son of God, He was able to be a perfect Savior and atone for all the sins of
mankind and to do the miraculous things He did (healings, walk on water,
prophesy).The Jews expected their
Messiah to come as a King who would set up a Kingdom at that time and free them
from Roman oppression; instead, He came in a very meek and humble manner and was
the opposite of what they expected.Therefore, they rejected Him as their Messiah. (Matt. 27:11, 29)It is when He comes again in power and
sovereignty to set up His Kingdom and rule at the start of the Millennium is
when He will be recognized as the True Messiah and King over all the
earth.Alleluia and Praise God in the
(3)He came to heal the brokenhearted, the
hopeless, and many ills. (Luke 4:18) The Lord came from Heaven down to us
to bring grace, healing, hope, and compassion to those who were downtrodden. (Matt.
9:20) He chose to eat with “sinners” (whom the Pharisees constantly mocked and
criticized). (Matt. 9:10, 11)Jesus was
their physician (Matt. )
whose mission and message was to restore physical and spiritual health to those
who were broken in mind, body, and spirit.Boy, to walk even a day with the Lord while He ministered to those He
encountered on the earth!Imagine what
that must have been like!And to be like
Mary, who sat at His feet and being captivated by what He had to say. Contrast
that with the harsh, stilted and ineffective traditional laws of the land
imposed by the Pharisees! (Matt. 15:6) I get very powerful images in my mind
and heart thinking about Jesus and the way He ministers.
(4)He came to be our Personal Savior.(John 6:51) Jesus came to die on a Cross.What a horrible thought!But…it was the biggest part of His mission!He came down to show us His Salvation; and
because of His love, provide the Gift of Salvation to all those who would accept
it by faith.And He was the only One who
could possibly accomplish proper atonement for man, who is hopelessly and
helplessly lost without God.No one else
could do it and there was no other way to do it, so He willingly came and chose
to atone for us by dying on our behalf as our Perfect Substitute. He was not simply a representative or an
example, as some religions falsely teach!He had to be, and He was indeed, much more powerful than that!
Jesus: What He accomplished for us on
The Nature of
Jesus Christ. (John 3:13; John 6:38, 41; John 6:62; John 1:1-14;
Heb. 1:8)If you look at these verses,
you will see that Jesus had a dual nature: one that was fully man (as He died,
He humbled Himself, He became like us, etc.), as well as one who came down from
heaven “from where He was before”.Also, God the Father calling the Son GOD in Hebrews.That
indicates that Jesus was not a mere created being, like we are.He had to be a whole lot more in order for
His sacrifice to be efficacious for all of mankind’s sins.If He was a mere mortal like us, His
sacrifice would have obviously been invalid, and we could never be
redeemed.So, Jesus had to be fully God
and fully man in order to accomplish this.Also, there is no way in the world that any created, fallen creature
could be born sinless.Ridiculous!
of Jesus Christ. (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; Heb. 9:22) In order for
mankind to be saved out of his fallen, sinful condition, it would have to take
someone that was supernaturally above the fallen, sinful nature to accomplish
this.The only One ever to come into
this world and walk this planet Who could fit this description was Jesus.He had to die as a blood sacrifice FOR US, so
that we could be redeemed.You may ask,
“Why did it have to take a blood sacrifice?Wasn’t that rather extreme, and couldn’t it have been done another
way?”The answer is a resounding “NO”,
for a few reasons:
ours, His blood was absolutely pure and sinless (His father is God, so the
“God” gene made His blood pure and separated from Mary’s, that was sinful),
which is significant in terms of the meaning of Atonement.All through the Old Testament, starting from
before the Mosaic Law, all sacrifices had very strict purity standards and
regulations attached to them, which all pointed to Christ (Num. ). But still, the blood of bulls and goats could
not save, it was only a temporary covering under the
Law. (Heb. 10:4)It took Christ Himself,
Who is the Lamb of God, to die once for all for sins. (John 1:29; Heb. 10:10)
Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins. (Heb. 9:22)
whole process of the crucifixion was that He gave HIMSELF for us, and His blood
was poured out both in love and also as a requirement for sin (Gal. 1:4; Titus ).This was done to appease God the Father’s
WRATH toward us because we by nature are separated from a Holy, pure and sinless
God.That act which was done on the
Cross for us was so we could become reconciled back into a right relationship
with God.No other way would or could
ever accomplish this by ordinary man: no amount of works, penitence, baptisms,
church-going, sacraments, ordinances, being “good” or anything else could
possibly appease God’s Wrath than that of Jesus offering Himself as a Gift of
Grace. (Rom. ; Eph.
2:8)Our own righteousness is as filthy
rags in God’s sight (Is. 64:6).Therefore, we have to depend totally on Jesus for everything by faith,
but especially eternal life!
condemned sin in the flesh. (Rom.
8:3)What does that mean?It means that, even though He was fully God,
He was fully man and He came down from Heaven in the likeness of sinful flesh (although because of His divine,
God-nature, He didn’t have sinful flesh but the likeness of it), and as such,
He had the power to condemn sin in the flesh through His finished work on the
Cross.As a Son of Man, He was physically
able to die so atonement could happen for us.
giving Himself to us and for us as a redemptive Gift, He became our
substitute.Why a substitute and not
simply a representative?Well, for the
very good reason is that WE DESERVE EVERY BIT TO BE IN HIS PLACE ON THE CROSS because
of how God looks on sin!However,
because it was done for us as we could not possibly earn our own way to heaven
or redeem ourselves, we now have opportunity by personal acceptance of this
wonderful Gift of Grace, to have all our sins totally erased.What an awesome concept!So, how do we accept this Gift into our lives
and hearts?By 1) recognizing that we
are a sinner who is totally separated from God’s Holy Throne and Presence; 2)
recognizing Who our Redeemer is and that we need forgiveness for our sins and
that He is the only way to be saved; 3) recognizing the need to humble
ourselves before a Holy and wonderful God whom we have offended so much because
of our sin; 4) repentance (turning from) sin.When we do that, we are spiritually washed from our filth and become new
creatures in Christ. (2Cor. )By accepting Jesus into our lives this way,
we are exchanging our unrighteousness for His righteousness.So now, instead of God viewing you as a
filthy object of His WRATH, because you are covered with Christ, God sees Him
when He sees you and you no longer come under condemnation to judgment and to
Hell (Eph. 2:3). 5) Because of your new standing with the Lord, He has adopted
you into His family forever as a new son or daughter,
He now loves and wants to nurture you through a new relationship.He now gives you eternal life, because all
your sins – past, present and future, have been washed away, and you are clean
in His sight and fit for His heaven. (Mark 3:28) 6) Lastly, as a new creature in Christ who has
gone through the New Birth and has been washed, the Holy Spirit can now come
and indwell the new believer as a guide, comforter, convict of sin, counselor,
minister and teacher in every aspect of our lives.He is with us to teach us how to read and
study our Bible correctly and how to interpret its meaning. He also with us when we pray, and enables us to pray effectively with conviction. He encourages our hearts and strengthens our
faith.The Holy Spirit is not some impersonal
force, but the third Person of the Trinity who is also God who grieves,
teaches, talks, has wisdom, is joyous, etc. (Eph. 4:30) Each one of the Three
Person Godhead are all considered God by their Nature even though their Offices
or Functions are different. (Acts 5:1-10) So these three Persons are
considered one God because of the same nature they share.
Birth.(Luke 1:27-35) So, what does the Virgin Birth of
Christ have to do with His atonement?I’ll tell you: a whole lot!If
Jesus had not been supernaturally born this way, He could not qualify to be the
Son of God and our Redeemer in the first place!Not only that, but the whole Bible and all its Messianic prophecies
would be false! (Luke 2:29-32)Thank God we know that isn’t true.
Three Days and Nights in the Tomb.When Jesus hung on that Cross, He was between
two thieves.One of them derided Him and
didn’t believe and so went to the place of the damned, but the other one did
believe. (Luke 23:39-43). Jesus told him
that that very day, he would be with Him in Paradise.That is
to say, His body would lay in the tomb for those three
days (hell/hades); but He Himself would be in Paradise with God the Father awaiting the resurrection of
His body on the third day.(Acts 2:31;
Eccl. 12:7) He also assured the
repentant thief of where he was going, and that it would be immediate.Jesus, by His crucifixion and resurrection,
set the tone for all others: He was the Firstfruits
from the dead and the last Adam by which every one of us who identify with Him
have this assurance of eternal life. (1Cor. )
mistake in believing that when Jesus died, He went to be with the damned or
even worse, that He was annihilated as some religions falsely teach!If that was so, then the resurrected “Jesus”
could only be a copy of Himself and not the real Person.Preposterous!I’d rather have the original….
Jesus: His resurrection from the dead.
(Matt. 28:6) All other founders of religions have lived and died.They are still dead and will stay that way.But with Jesus it is totally
different.He is the only “founder”
of Christianity who has died, as God in flesh (John ), and was resurrected on the third day
as death could not hold Him. (Acts )
He lives forever so that we may live, too! (1Cor. , 17)He promised us that He was going away to prepare a place for us,
that where He is, we may be also. (John 14:2, 3)In order for that to be true, He had to
die (to purchase/redeem us from our sins as our Savior) and also be
resurrection, the process of redemption would not be complete.The whole chapter of
1Corinthians 15 talks about the resurrection and the believer’s lively hope
in Eternal Life.Because Jesus was
resurrected, this solidifies the believer’s eternity immediately upon
taking Jesus into our life at the New Birth.
resurrection of believers and unbelievers. There will come an
appointed time when all believers from all time will be resurrected.However, they will be resurrected in
different groups at different points in history.For example, the Church Age believers (those
who have accepted Christ from the time of Christ until now) will be resurrected
at the coming Rapture and all believers will be removed to heaven. (1Cor. ) This will be to keep them
from the wrath that will be coming on the earth during the time of the
Tribulation, to cleanse the earth of sin. (1Th. ) The Old Testament Saints who foresaw and believed in
the coming Messiah will come back to life after the Tribulation at the start of
the Millennial Reign of Christ and they will reign together with those who have
returned from heaven at Armageddon. (Rev. 20:4; Rev. 19:14) The rest of the
dead (those saved during the Tribulation and Millennium and those unsaved from
all time) will be resurrected and judged after the Millennium as either “sheep”
or “goats”. (Rev. 20:5; Dan. 12:2; Matt. 25:32-34) The sheep will be granted
the right to be with Christ and His saints; and the goats will face judgment at
the Great White Throne and eternal banishment from God’s presence and His
goodness forever. (Rev. 20:11-15)They
will be thrown into the Lake
of Fire, and God’s
justice for all unrighteousness will be finally vindicated.
All resurrected bodies will be
raised incorruptible, whether sheep or goats, to receive either their rewards
or their judgments, which will be for eternity. (Luke , 35; 2Cor. ) The
believers’ sins have already been judged at the Cross by Christ and they no
longer come under condemnation. (John 19:30; Rom. 8:1) However, all the
unbelievers who chose to not receive Christ, will be
forced to pay the penalty for their sins themselves, which will have horrendous
So you see, this whole picture of
why Jesus atoned for us is summarized as follows: 1) to provide the way for
man’s sin to be dealt with; 2) to be man’s covering through salvation; 3) to
bring God’s love so people would not have to go to hell, eternally separated
from Him; 4) to bring God’s Grace to mankind.Yet, God does not force anyone to accept His offer of Grace; we need to
respond to that offer by faith. (Eph. 2:8)
Jesus: God’s Eternal Gift to us. (John
3:16) Someone has said, “If Christ is born a thousand times in Bethlehem, but not
born in your heart, it is a totally insignificant event”.How true!Jesus has to be a living reality that
carries us wherever we go.
I cannot think of a better
Christmas Gift to me for all time than the Person of Jesus Christ!He means everything, and His importance to me
is above all else.Thanks be to God for giving Him to me in His Love and Grace.Let us cherish our wonderful Savior forever
by looking to Him for all things, walking with Him and glorifying Him with our
lives through a personal relationship.
No matter what the personal
circumstances in your life (which sometimes cannot be controlled), you can have
absolute JOY this season because of the Eternal Gift of Jesus!All other gifts pale in comparison.
I would like to briefly expand on the statements I made at
the beginning of this article relative to the celebration of Christmas.It is not wrong to have a nice family and friends get-together on Christmas if you want to.Neither is it wrong if you choose to not
participate. (Rom. 14:5)It is only a
problem if the traditional Christmas celebration is taken to extremes and we lose sight of the whole
meaning of it.In other words, let’s
keep the “Christ” in Christmas, even if it is only a traditional day set aside
for His birthday while His true birthday is in the fall of the year
anyway.And, let’s also remember to put
Christ FIRST in Christmas, instead
of ourselves or even our families and friends!That is the most important element.
May you be blessed this Christmas season, and all seasons,
with the love of Jesus burning brightly in your heart.May He reign mightily in your life as you
make Him yours forever.What a precious and divine Gift above all
other gifts!Merry Christmas!