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Born with Purpose

December 21, 2015

nativityChristmas time is always a battle between remembering the ‘Reason for the Season’ and the ‘ever growing commercialism’ of the holiday. And truth be told, in many lives, even my own more than I care to admit, the latter seems to win out.  We dread having to go to the store even if it’s not for gift shopping. Tempers are short, you have to be careful which holiday greeting you use (if you care to be politically correct), and then there are the myriad of parties that seem to book up the entire month.

As the day approaches we’re not thinking much of a young teenage girl nearly nine months pregnant having to walk or ride a donkey while carrying a story beyond belief.  The nearly 100 mile journey would have been arduous for any normal person let alone being a back-aching nine months pregnant.  Her incredible story was a culmination of stories and sacred writings she had heard all her life.

Isaiah 7:14 — Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Every young girl hoped to be ‘the one‘, but if their lives were any like ours, they may have treated the whole prophecy much like a far-fetched fable.  You know you’re supposed to believe it, but the longer it takes to come true, the bigger our doubts can sometimes grow.  It’s hard to see the miraculous in the every day life.

People of that time were as well aware as we are that virgin births aren’t the norm.  Quite the contrary.  They’re impossible.  So when she had the encounter with the angel who gave her the pregnancy test results early — that she would become pregnant after the Holy Spirit overshadowed her — she probably thought she had eaten some bad mutton nachos or maybe drank a glass of goats milk a day or two beyond the sell-by date.  This young girl, Mary, wasn’t from Bethlehem where the prophecy said the Messiah would come.  But the timing of the Roman decree was in God’s hand of providence to align the birth of Jesus to the prophecy given some 700 years before their trek to Bethlehem.

Micah 5:2 — But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    are only a small village among all the people of Judah.
Yet a ruler of Israel,
    whose origins are in the distant past,
    will come from you on my behalf.

Many are aware Christmas is the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus while His actual birth probably took place closer to September than December.  And while many will look at the Christmas story as Mary and soon-to-be-step-dad Joseph’s encounter at the Barnyard Bed & Breakfast, it really began in Genesis when God spoke prophetically of the redemption of mankind.

Genesis 3:15 — And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring.  He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”

The future was clear: Satan would wound the Redeemer, but that very Redeemer would defeat His enemy once and for all.  All of the prophecies from the first in Genesis and all through the Old Testament wove a tapestry of the coming King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  This great Ruler would come to bring justice, hope, mercy to a nation who was always fighting for it’s very survival.  But His heart and gift of redemption would extend beyond just those of Israel.

Genesis 22:18 — And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.”

Being part of the Holy Trinity, Jesus was well aware of His purpose — the redemption of mankind from the grasp of sin.  He would bridge the gulf between man’s sinful nature and a holy God.  He was well aware of other prophecies that foretold of His life here on earth as the Son of God.

Psalm 22:14-18 — My life is poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart is like wax,
    melting within me.
15 My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay.
    My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.
    You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead.
16 My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs;
    an evil gang closes in on me.
    They have pierced my hands and feet.
17 I can count all my bones.
    My enemies stare at me and gloat.
18 They divide my garments among themselves
    and throw dice for my clothing.

But His relationship to His Father was deep and He completely trusted Him.

Psalm 22:9-11 — Yet you brought me safely from my mother’s womb
    and led me to trust you at my mother’s breast.
10 I was thrust into your arms at my birth.
    You have been my God from the moment I was born.

11 Do not stay so far from me,
    for trouble is near,
    and no one else can help me.

All man is under the curse of sin.  Sin when it matures brings spiritual death.

James 1:14-15 — Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

And because we are all born under the curse of sin, enemies of God, unable to freely choose not to sin because of the very deceitfulness of our heart, there was no need for the following verse except for Jesus.

Deuteronomy 21:23 — the body must not remain hanging from the tree overnight. You must bury the body that same day, for anyone who is hung is cursed in the sight of God.

Since Jesus was without sin, this is the only way He could have become accursed … when He became our sacrifice for our sin.

Isaiah 53:4-6 — Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
    it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
    a punishment for his own sins!
But he was pierced for our rebellion,
    crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
    He was whipped so we could be healed.
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
    We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
    the sins of us all.

This Child of God birthed through Mary had purpose.  God’s hand was on Him to protect, love, nurture, and eventually lead Him to Calvary for that purpose.  This Child, Jesus, Savior of all mankind, was born in a manger without fanfare, paparazzi, or fame.  Smelly animals, a poor and embarrassed step-father, and the very tired, aching mother all witnessed this Baby, this King, enter our world.

Luke 2:10-14 — but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

We hang on to the receipts for those special gifts, just in case the receiver thinks they’re not really special and wants to returns them. The birth of Christ is God’s love gift to us and the receipt was His resurrection.  We have done nothing to earn His love and yet Jesus was born in a manger — with a purpose; to be our Redeemer and Savior.

Ephesians 1:4-6 — Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

The next time I think of Christmas, children opening presents, the impending debt that will hit the mailbox a week or two later, the hustle and bustle, and returning clothes two sizes too small, I hope I take time to remember that long journey that started back in Genesis and of the teenage girl and her husband who held God’s only begotten Son in their arms.  The gift of salvation through Jesus is much more important than the special gift, wrapped in special paper, and shoved under a freshly cut, light-covered, pine tree.  Christmas isn’t about piling presents for one another or seeing just how far you can stretch your credit rating.  It’s about God’s love for us and the gift of His only begotten Son.  It’s about Jesus.

Jesus is Christmas.

 — Pastor Rick

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One Comment
  1. Lovely post! Reminds me of a favorite Christmas lyric by Christina Rossetti:

    Love came down at Christmas,
    Love all lovely, Love Divine,
    Love was born at Christmas,
    Star and Angels gave the sign.

    Worship we the Godhead,
    Love Incarnate, Love Divine,
    Worship we our Jesus,
    But wherewith for sacred sign?

    Love shall be our token,
    Love be yours and love be mine,
    Love to God and all men,
    Love for plea and gift and sign.

    There’s a sung version of it here at LibriVox —
    [audio src="http://ia700400.us.archive.org/11/items/christmas_carols_2010_librivox/lovecamedown_rossetti_csm.mp3" /]

    Merry Christmas, cousin!

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