“ . . . be certain of the truth . . .” (Luke 1:4)
Greetings in Jesus’ Name!
Just like many families at this season of the year, we gather to read the Christmas Story. This reading helps us to recall the facts of the gospel message and helps us to be “certain” of it.
Within the heart of Luke’s letter we see a deep desire to write a careful account about the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, the Son of God.
Two words jump out in verses 5 and 8: “order”. We quickly discover that Zechariah was a member of the priestly order of Abijah*. And his order was on duty that week. Most of us do not have any idea what this means . . . so we read on.
Very, very briefly: there were 24 families that took turns serving as priests in the Temple. Because of the Jewish calendar there were also three weeks when they all served. Zechariah, John’s father, served under Abijah.
But this particular year Zechariah was visited in Jerusalem by Gabriel, an angel. The crowds wondered why the priest was taking such a long time. And . . . finally . . . when he did come out he could not speak!
About six months later this same angel, Gabriel, suddenly appeared to Mary in Nazareth. He told her that she had found favor with God and that she would conceive and give birth to a son.
A virgin giving birth to a son?
Incredible . . . never heard of before . . . or since.
This same angel appeared to Daniel in 8:16 and 9:21. In Hebrew here is his name: גַּבְרִיאֵל
It means “warrior of God”, or “man of God”.
“Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared” (Luke 2:9). Wow! Here’s another angel, unnamed. The shepherds were terrified! The angel told them, “I bring you good news.”
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of the armies of heaven, praising God.
Back in Matthew’s gospel another angel appeared to Joseph telling him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife. “The child in her womb was conceived by the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 1:2)!
After the wise men left another angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to flee to Egypt with his family. “Stay there until I tell you to return” (Mt. 2:13).
After the death of Herod another angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel.” Another warning by an angel caused Joseph to settle in Nazareth.
So the birth of Jesus was surrounded by many supernatural events . . . and angels giving clear direction to people. And rightly so! God becoming a man in the person of Jesus was the most startling and supernatural incident EVER! This same Jesus will soon return and take us to heaven to be with Him forever.
This is our blessed hope!
Most of us have never been visited by an angel. And it would scare the wits out of us if it happened. Every place in the Bible where an angel appears to a person it “deeply troubles” him or her. We humans are not used to the supernatural!
God’s master plan is so huge that we earthlings can barely grasp the most simple truth. The only way for us to be rescued from our sinful state was for the Son of God to come to earth as a human being. Shedding his blood on the cross redeems us . . . if we believe.
I’ve just entered my 50th year of teaching God’s Word and I still cannot imagine what a huge sacrifice this was for Father God to allow his Son to go to the cross for us. I cannot imagine that He loves us this much. Can you?
But this is what Christmas is really all about. We all know that December 25 is not really the date when Christ was born. But this is when most nations celebrate his birthday, and this is the time we celebrate it in the United States.
The important thing is that we believe that God sent his Son to redeem us. Faith in him and this truth saves us and guarantees us a place in heaven for eternity. This is the greatest gift any person could ever receive. Forever is a long time.
In this life we will not know how much he loves us. But there is coming a time soon when we will be face to face with Him. It is then that He will wipe away our tears and there will never be pain, suffering or sickness ever again.
The Bible talks about our “Blessed Hope” (Titus 2:13). This hope is believing the promise from God that Jesus Christ gives us eternal life.
This is the message that our family has consistently taught, preached, and written about for decades.
I’m trusting this Christmas that you, along with us, believe the simplicity of the gospel message. Because you do believe it you have a “Blessed Hope” that no one can take away from you.
Thank you so much for helping us spread this truth to the nations. And thank you from the bottom of my heart for praying for us.
In His Service,
*P.S. One of Judah’s kings was named Abijah (2 Chron. 12:16). He had 14 wives and 22 sons. Hezekiah’s mother was also named Abijah (2 Chron. 29:1)! Abijah means "My Father is Jehovah".
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