Merry Christmas! I hope your day is filled with all the things we love about Christmas – family and friends, presents and food, time off work and school, NBA games and “bowl” games, the latest from Hallmark, and classics like Die Hard. In addition to all the things that make Christmas “magical,” I pray you take time to remember the things that made the first Christmas “miraculous.”
- First, remember the miracle of inspired Old Testament prophecies that predicted the birth of the Messiah. These prophecies were spoken by a remarkably diverse group of people, including God himself (Genesis 3:15), a pagan magician named Balaam (Numbers 24:17), Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15), King David (Psalm 110), and the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7). These prophecies were miraculously inspired by the Holy Spirit of God and spoken centuries before the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.
- Second, remember the virgin birth of Jesus. Matthew and Luke are the two gospel writers who tell us the Christmas story, and both of them go to great lengths to tell us that the Holy Spirit created life in Mary’s womb while Mary was still a virgin. Liberal Bible scholars have scoffed at this miracle, noting that Paul doesn’t talk about the virgin birth and suggesting that perhaps Mary had been assaulted by a Roman soldier. This scoffing flies in the face of what Matthew and Luke plainly tell us. Jesus was miraculously born of a virgin.
- Third, remember that Jesus is Immanuel, which means God with us. The child born to Mary in Bethlehem was no ordinary child. Conceived by the work of the Holy Spirit, and born to a human mother, Jesus was – and is – truly God and truly man, fully God and fully man. While you and I consist of one “person” with one “nature,” Jesus was – and is – one “person” with two “natures.” This is the miracle of the incarnation. It is essential to the Christmas story, and it is essential to the salvation of God’s people.
- Fourth, remember the Magi who followed the “star.” Today, scholars of all kinds argue about Matthew’s “star” (Matthew 2:2, 2:7, 2:9-10). Was it a planet, a comet, a constellation, a supernova, an angel, the Shekinah Glory of the Lord, or some other astrological phenomenon? Whatever it was, the “star” miraculously guided pagan philosopher-priests from the east to Bethlehem in search of a baby King. These kings brought costly gifts and bowed down in the presence of the King of kings.
- Fifth, remember that the baby born in Bethlehem was born to die. In a sense, this is true of every baby born everywhere because, of course, everyone dies. However, the death of Jesus was different than the death that awaits us all. From the foundation of the world, Jesus was destined to die as a substitutionary-sacrifice that would provide atonement for sinners (Revelation 13:8). The work of Jesus, the God-man, on the cross is the most glorious of miracles – especially since that miracle was followed by the miracle of resurrection!
I hope your Christmas day is “magical,” but I pray your Christmas day is “miraculous.” Merry Christmas!