The Greatest Gift

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Virgin birth.
King born in a barn.
God AND man.
Killed on a cross even though he had the power to stop them.
Rose from the dead.

I know. I get it—the facts are hard for some to believe, but when you consider the Bible as a whole, it all fits together.

The Christmas festivities make it easy and fun to admire this sweet, innocent baby, but how do you feel about the rest of it? If you find yourself doubting, let me remind you that the rest of scripture points to this little bundle.

There is no way I can cover all of it, and I don’t claim to know all of it anyway. Sometimes scripture is intimidating and I feel like I need a PhD to understand. But that shouldn’t stop me from reading and trying to understand what I claim to believe.

After becoming a believer, I avoided the Old Testament for a few years. But now, I’m starting to learn it. I’m gaining a better understanding of the big picture.

Did you know that the Old Testament prophets wrote some very specific details about the life of Jesus? Many details about Christ were written YEARS before he was lying in a manger, as in 600+ years before!

Isaiah writes “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” 7:14

Only God could make this happen. He can do anything, and he often does things in ways we don’t expect. Jesus was born to a young virgin who was not perfect but was willing to submit to God’s will for her life, which he used to bring glory to himself.

Micah writes “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” 5:2

Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph did not live there, but were traveling.

Zechariah tells us “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem: See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey….He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.” 9:9, 10b

Years later, Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Donkeys symbolize humility. Jesus was humble. He brought peace. We celebrate this on Palm Sunday. Read about it in Matthew 21.

Isaiah writes “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, as as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” (53:5-7)

That sweet baby we celebrate was crucified. He knew he had to endure it so he could pay the price for our sins. Even the worst of sinners can go to heaven. The criminal beside him on the cross accepted him, and Jesus told him he would go to heaven. Because humans are sinful, we are separated from God, and Jesus is our only hope of being forgiven and accepted into his kingdom which will never end.

Before he even came, God had a plan.

Isaiah tells us “This is what God the Lord says—he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: ‘I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles; to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or praise to idols.’” (42:5-8)

To open eyes that are blind.
To free captives from prison.
To release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.

The savior that the old testament talked about —He came!

When Jesus was here, he said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6. He also said “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

That baby we’re celebrating is ultimately the ONLY good news.

This Christmas, may we focus on the whole picture, not just the manger. May we give the gift of good news to someone. The best part is: it’s free!

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