By Dr. Foster H. Shannon
Christmas celebrations, rejoicing, and thanksgiving are appropriate for the gift that God gives us in the birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. The carols can be wonderful! In the background are the many passages in the Old Testament that foretold the coming of the Messiah.
”Therefore the Lord himself will give a sign. Behold a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
“For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end.” (Isaiah 9:6,7)
“In that day the root of Jesse shall stand as an ensign to the peoples; him shall the nations seek and his dwellings shall be glorious.” (Isaiah 11:10)
“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah; from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore, he shall give them up until the time when she who is in travail has brought forth.”then the rest of his brethren shall return to the people of Israel.” (Micah 5:2,3)
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son; and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:10-13)
“And Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be since I have no husband?” And the angel said to her: the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” (Luke 1:34,35) “And Mary said, Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word. And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:38)
Caesar Augustus decreed a census for a large section of the Mediterranean world, that included Judea. As required, Joseph, with Mary, went up to Bethlehem to be enrolled in the census. During that stay, Mary gave birth to Jesus. The inn was filled. They found a place for the baby in a manger. In a nearby region, shepherds were watching their sheep. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them. He told the shepherds not to be afraid—that the Christ was born. The shepherds came to the manger. They told Mary and Joseph of what the angels had said to them.
They met the prophetess, Anna, who gave thanks to God, and spoke of Jesus to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. They returned to Nazareth And the child grew and became strong. They brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. They encountered Simeon, who inspired by the Holy Spirit, that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
As we look forward to the growth of Jesus Christ into adulthood, we recognize the magnificent qualities that he posses. He was a great speaker and leader. He is the founder of the Church. He healed many, including raising people from death. He is the greatest man who has ever lived!
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made though him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:1-4)
We give gifts at Christmas time because of the gift that God has given to us, and the example of the Wise Men who came from Persia bringing gifts to the Messiah gold, frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11)