Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Most Powerful Christmas Story

Each year, as Christmas rolls around, I find new and exciting details about the coming of the Messiah to earth. In other words, Christmas just gets more and more wonderful to me. I have especially been drawn to the account recorded in Matthew chapter one.

It begins, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.” It struck me, as I read this sentence, that it was Jesus who was the promised son of David (not Solomon), and the promised son of Abraham (not Isaac). I remembered that Genesis 3:15 was the promise of the coming “seed of the woman” who would totally defeat Satan who had misguided Eve in the garden.

Then I reviewed Acts 2:30, “Therefore, (David) being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne…” It was Jesus, not Solomon, whom God promised would sit on David’s throne.

Further, I returned to Galatians 3:16 to remind myself of the promise to Abraham, “Now to Abraham and his Seed, were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed,’ who is Christ.” So truly, the Holy Spirit speaks through Matthew to inform the whole world that Jesus, born of a virgin in Bethlehem, is the true Son of David, the true Son of Abraham. And this truth begins the whole New Testament, verse one of chapter one of Matthew.

The genealogies, beginning with verse two, are given for many reasons; but one special reason stood out to me in view of the first verse and the eighteenth verse. The coming of Jesus was quite different from the coming of all other people into this world. All people’s lineages are made up of men marrying women, men cohabiting with women – good women, bad women, good men, bad men. But not so, the birth of Jesus. And the Greek language especially points to this fact.

After having identified Jesus as the Promised Seed of Genesis 3:15 (Matthew 1:1), the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, Matthew finishes His genealogy with these words in Matthew 1:18. “Now the birth of Jesus was on this wise.” Or to translate the Greek more literally, “On the contrary, the birth of Jesus was like this.” The Holy Spirit specifically draws attention to the stark difference in the conception/birth of others and the conception/birth of Jesus. He was born of a virgin, before her marriage, and of the Holy Spirit’s impregnation. So verse eighteen becomes the centerpiece of the entire New Testament. Jesus was truly the only begotten Son of God!

People throughout the last 2,000 years have doubted and disbelieved this fact. But the fact still stands true, unwavering, and withstanding all contradiction. Jesus is the Son of God. And remember this truth; the Word of God trumps all other theories, ideas or experiences. It has stood the test of time.

So this Christmas, I pray for you, that you will see in a deeper way the beauty of the coming of the long-awaited Messiah. Christmas is more than the gift we give, it is all about – and only, ever, all about – the gift of Jesus to the world. And His coming the first time assures us that He will surely come again!

“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Have a Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The New Testament - Jesus' Letters in Red?

One whole shelf in my office library is full of Bibles of many different versions. The one I use the most, the New King James version, has the words of Jesus in red.

One theologian I read said that this is a travesty. By raising the words of Jesus above all other scripture, you naturally lower the value of the other words, he says. All scripture is inspired by God; therefore, all the words are of equal value because they are all God's words.

I don't know how you feel about that. You probably take the more common position that it is nice to separate the words of Jesus for identification purposes.

But here is my personal take on the matter. When I try to follow what Jesus taught, I find that I am woefully inadequate and powerless for the task! I mean, who can truly forgive his enemy, let alone love him? The good news is that through His death and resurrection, he accomplished for me what I could not accomplish for myself - on my best day!

So, His words are in red, because they leave me owing; i.e., in the red.
Then comes his sacrifice for me, and now I have all I need, in Him, to overcome and be successful; i.e., in the black.

In the Gospels, He removed my debt - the red; and in the Epistles, I am on victory ground - in the black.

What do you think about that?