“…Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” Luke 2:10
Joy is a wonderful thing and a gift of God; it is a special gift of God to mankind and best that can happen to you during Christmas. I wonder if you have experienced Joy this season. It is not shopping, decorating and lights, Christmas tree or even having a big meal with your family. There is so much of mindless activity – but many go through these activities without Joy. I am not referring to happiness.
Happiness is a wonderful thing at the Christmas and like all the world’s virtues, it is temporal. Happiness is related to your circumstances. When circumstances are right and favorable there is happiness; but when things are not going according to your expectations happiness departs. It is not this way with joy. The source of Joy is God. It is based upon what God has done, and it is given to the Christians by God and is sustained by God. Nothing destroys joy except disbelief in God’s provision of Salvation and unfaithfulness with God.
I pray that God may give joy to you. I would like you to have the experience of entering into the kind of joy that Mary and Joseph and the shepherds had on that first Christmas morning. Did they have joy? Of course, they did! But think about their condition and circumstances! They were not in a good or an ideal situation. Mary and Joseph were far from home, in distant town without even a room to themselves in which Mary could give birth to the Child. But I imagine that the joy of this couple on this occasion was the greatest this world has ever known or seen. Why do you think it was so? Because this joy was given to them by God Himself and was centered on the birth of the Savior. This Child was given to be their Savior.
His name will be called JESUS because “he will save His people from their sins”. Mathew 1:21
If you know this and believe then Joy is yours. You can go on, as the shepherds did, to give glory to God; and you can possess that peace of heart and soul which transcends understanding. Share your Joy and source of Joy.
When Christ Jesus comes again, it is written, that He will wipe all our tears. This will be an appropriation of Eternal Joy.
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” Revelation 21:4
During Christmas we always go to see the lights in different places of our town. There are some houses where one can see nativity scenes displayed in the yards. I have noticed Joseph standing behind Mary. And they both are beholding the baby (Jesus) placed in the manger. Often after seeing that, my mind has always wandered to the time past and I had wondered about Joseph, who remained silent and never questioned. He kept doing whatever he was told to do and remained obedient and even remained righteous and pure in his relationship with Mary till the birth of Jesus. I believe he was still trying to make sense of all these things in his mind. It was beyond his comprehension! But Joseph remained submissive to the will of God. The nativity scene is a beautiful picture of two ordinary people who were willing to risk and give up their social standing. I am amazed and inspired by their willingness to be scrutinized and ridiculed by their friends and their community.
Remember Joseph was going to put her away secretly after he came to know that Mary is with child. Who told him? How did he come to know.? We do not know, but it seems it became evident after three months of pregnancy. It was obvious that few people came to know about Mary and the news reached to him. I believe when he heard the news, he was both shocked and heartbroken. He must be tormented by hundred of thoughts, things and questions in his mind after hearing this ridiculous bad news. But he remained calm under these circumstances. He must be asking, “Why all this happened to me?’ His dreams of being happily married to Mary shattered.
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. “ Mathew 1:18-19
Joseph came to know about the pregnancy of Mary after three months because Mary went to her cousin’s place soon after she received the message from the Angel, Gabriel. Luke 1:56 He was thinking of what could have transpired in the three months while she was at her cousin’s place. He must deliberating what are his options and what is the best way to deal with this situation. He remained thoughtful and concerned about Mary and her future.
“But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”. Mathew 1:20
“Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife.” Mathew 1:24
Again, this was not an easy thing for him. It was a shameful and sinful thing for a young woman to be impregnated before lawful marriage in that culture. The culture in which he was living, would have stoned Mary to death. Unlike today’s culture in the west, where hundreds of babies are born out of wedlock, but no one cares or dares to ask question to young people. Many don’t think it is a wrong thing or sin!
He found out that it was a God’s plan for him and Mary. The angel told him “don’t be afraid”. Joseph was willing to be submissive to the heavenly voice of the Angel. He must have told his parents, relatives and friends that he will not give up on Mary and will take her as his wife. He was going to do one big ridiculous thing which was unheard of in that culture. We do not know the Bible describes him, that “he was a just man”. There are handful men in the NT who are called “ just or righteous. He was the first “just man of New testament” we read about in Mathew 1:19. He did exactly what just man must be willing to do for the sake of Christ. He was willing to be ridiculed and scorned by his friends, family members and neighbors.
Are you willing to be ridiculed by your friends, relatives, and countrymen? Christmas is hijacked by postmodern culture. People don’t want to say “ Merry Christmas!” but “ Happy Holiday!” People want to sing “Santa Baby, ” “ twelve days of Christmas” Rudolf the red nose deer” etc.
- Please say “Merry Christmas” to everyone.
- Play Christmas Hymns and songs.
- Hang Star or a Cross in your window or in your yard.
- Make Christ known and be known for your faith.
Don’t be afraid, let the world ridicule you. Let them say whatever they want to say about you and your faith.
Be willing to be ridiculed this Christmas!
Peter forewarns Christians in his epistle that in the last days they will be mocked for their belief in Christ’s Second Coming!
“… knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:3-4
Don’t be afraid! Be willing to be ridiculed for your Faith!! Don’t give up, Jesus is coming again soon!
We get excited about getting together as a family during Christmas. it can be both exciting and frustrating time because on one hand you are excited about the family members or relatives visiting you but at the same time it can cause lots of anxiety. You have to figure out all the details like how long the guest will stay, where you are going to put all the guests and then cooking for all the guests etc etc. The list goes on. Some don’t invite anyone because it is a burden and lots of work and preparation. Some don’t have desire to invite. Some don’t care about others. Some wants to keep it between them and their family. Its just a family time.
Let me give you my commentary on Luke Chapter 2. Joseph and Mary had to go back to Bethlehem because of the decree of Emperor. I think they were hoping to see their family members and relatives and friends in the town of Bethlehem after a long time. I am guessing there may be other family members of Joseph who may be visiting the town for the same reason of getting registered and be counted in the census. It was Joseph’s home town. There were lots of expectations of getting together with their other relatives and friends.
“Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, ..” Luke 2:4
But they were shocked and heart-broken! Joseph and Mary could not find any relative or family member or even a friend who could invite them into their home! This is how Jesus and Mary and Joseph were treated by their home town friends and relatives. No one wanted to invite them into their home. (plagued by Bethlehem syndrome! ) This was a reception and hospitality JESUS received 2000 years ago at His First Coming.
“And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7
So they have to spent their time with the cattle. Do you have a place for JESUS in your celebration? Or you have kept him outside because you are too busy in your celebrations.
[Here is a practical lesson from the story of Christmas. Don’t be a #Bethlehemite!(see footnote) So often we think Christmas is all about me and my family. On the contrary, I would suggest that its a time when you can open your home and heart for people. Its an opportunity to share your love and your Savior with the people. There are many who are neglected , ignored or overlooked during the Christmas time because of bitter feelings, unforgiving hearts and hatred for particular people group or persons. Make a list of your Guests for this Christmas. In your list include orphans, single moms/ dads, widows, singles, elderly people or strangers! (new person in your church, in your neighborhood)] Remember you don’t need a big house but a big heart full of Christ’ love!
Even today, we see JESUS does not get the reception, people have kept Jesus out and replaced him with worldly traditions. Celebrate Christmas with JESUS CHRIST and with Share Him with those who do not know the real reason of Christmas. Christmas is all about JESUS. Invite HIM into your heart and home today.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20
JESUS is also preparing a place for you. At His Second Coming, He will take you to be with Him.
“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:2-3
(#Bethlehemite is one who does not show or provide hospitality)
It is easy to get so busy with our own things and celebration of the festive season that we can lose our sight of the Star and the Son. You may be just spending too much time decorating your home with all the Christmas toys and tinsels, decorating the tree with ornaments and putting up lights, baking Christmas fruit cake and cookies, shopping gifts and wrapping gifts. In all excitement of the season, it is easy to not to think about the person of the season, Jesus Christ. One can go weeks without even bothering to pause and think about the Child, our Savior.
It happened to the wise men who travelled far, spent days on the journey and collecting gifts for their King but with the excitement of reaching the place, they lost their way and the sight of the Star! They were so close to the town and the house but somehow missed the sight of the star that was guiding them. They started looking for the King in the wrong place. This is true today with our elaborate preparations and celebrations which might cause us to lose our sight of the Star and the Son.
Some of you have started looking for the King in your celebrations and family traditions. You can spend the whole season of Christmas without thinking of the King Jesus Christ.
How did the wise men find their way? The wise men of the east found their way only by the help of the Holy Scriptures. They heard the Holy Scripture read by the scribes and found their way.
“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” Micah 5:2
“…and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” Mathew 2:9-10
The Bible will always help you to focus on Jesus Christ, the King. I would recommend you to pause and go back to the Scriptures and meditate upon it.Spend time in the Scriptures during this season. Focus on the Lord Jesus Christ. Rejoice and praise God for His love, grace and mercy.
Don’t lose your sight of the Star and the Son. Those wise men were expected to keep their eyes on the star and follow it.
We should celebrate His First Coming and be waiting for his Second Advent. When Christ will come again, the Bible says, that people will be busy in their celebrations, business and work.
“As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” Mathew 24:37-39
Men will not be thinking about His coming when it arrives. They will be preoccupied with their own pursuits of life as in the time of Noah. They refused to heed the warnings of God. Therefore don’t lose your sight of your King. He is coming soon. The true believer is looking forward to the coming of the King.
“Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.” Revelation 16:15
We at our home have started playing Christmas songs. There is something about Christmas time and music. It feels you with excitement and joy. I have always wondered what was it likeon that night while shepherds were in the field, there shone around them glory of the Lord and the angel shared good news of Jesus birth. Later we read there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying ( singing),
“ Glory of God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
I believe this was one of the most melodious music fell into the ears of Shepherd. Shepherds in the middle-east/ east have always played music (pipe or flute )or sang songs while grazing flocks. It must have been a treat for weary shepherds to hear heavenly music with the message of hope and joy.
Think about the message of the music and songs. Share and sing Christmas songs/hymns of hope, joy and peace with your family, friends, and even with foes! People need to hear music of hope and joy in the midst of fear and despair.
At Jesus’ Second coming, we know one of the musical instruments that will be sounded. This will be a very different sound/music.
“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.” I Thessalonians 4:16
Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Mathew 24:30-31
Enjoy your Christmas music and Anticipate the trumpet sound at any moment. Christ is coming soon! And then we will be singing a new song and play new music (Revelation 5:9-14 ) only if we have truly accepted the message of angels’s Christmas music as did the shepherds.
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
Some of you have already put your Christmas lights up and some of you are going to put up soon. Christmas time is a joyous time and it seems everywhere you go to- like shops, malls, streets and houses in your neighborhood are all glittering and shining with the lights.
When Christ was born, there was a Star shining in the east in the night. Wise men from the east came, .. and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Mathew 2:2. There was not only a Star that was shining, but Jesus who was the Light Himself came to call us out of the darkness into His marvelous Light. Are you walking in the light? Paul was changed forever when he was confronted with the Light- Jesus Christ on the way to Damscus. (Read Acts 9) “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:4-5
At His Second Coming, it will again a night but without a light or a star, it will be a dark night. “….those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Mathew 24 :29-30.
Do you have the light? Jesus said ” I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”. Its not about the lights on the house but the light in the heart !
Are you expecting a gift?
Christmas is a time when people give gifts or receive gifts. The shepherds were told that you will find your gift wrapped in swaddling cloths. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12
The Word of God encourages us to receive Christ Jesus who is God’s indescribable gift for mankind! ( II Cor 9:15) “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: ” John 1:12
There are also gifts stored for those who are looking for His Second Coming! “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” II Timothy 4:8