The miraculous birth of Jesus Christ is the defining event of Christianity. Christmas is celebrated as a means to commemorate this event, and to help all believers focus on the meaning of the nativity. Although Christmas has become commercialized, it is always possible to return to the roots of this special holiday.
The story of Jesus's birth is told throughout the New Testament. One of the most lucid passages describing the birth of Christ is in Matthew 1: 18-25. These passages describe "how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about," and also what it meant for Joseph and Mary (Matthew 1:18). When Mary was found to be pregnant before her wedding to Joseph, Joseph actually "had in mind to divorce her quietly" because he thought she had disgraced herself (Matthew 1:19). However, the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. In the dream, the Lord told Joseph that the child Mary bore was conceived by the Holy Spirit and would "save his people from their sins," (Matthew 18:21). The Lord also instructed that Joseph and Mary name the child Jesus.
In Luke, we learn that the Lord also sent an angel to some shepherds in a field nearby to where baby Jesus was born in Bethlehem. At first, the shepherds were startled, even "terrified" at the "glory of the Lord" that "shone around them," (Luke 2:10). Just as the Lord needed to tell Joseph about the coming of the Messiah through his wife Mary, the angel of the Lord brought a message to the shepherds to help them prepare for this momentous occasion. Through the angel, the Lord said to the shepherds, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord," (Luke 2:11-12).
How would those shepherds know which baby was the Messiah? When Mary gave birth to Jesus in Bethlehem, "she wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them," (Luke 2:7). The angel told the shepherds, "You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger," (Luke 2:12). Obedient to the Lord as Joseph and Mary were, the shepherds did indeed go to Bethlehem to bear witness to the miracle of Jesus's birth.
The story of Jesus's birth proves both the power of God and the great benefit that comes to human beings who place their faith and trust in God. Joseph almost divorced Mary. If he had not trusted the Lord, it is uncertain whether Mary would have been able to carry Jesus to term and be the mother of God. Their faith allowed for the preparation of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. Likewise, the story about the shepherds also shows how faith in God is rewarded. Even before they saw the baby, the shepherds trusted in the angel's words. They traveled to Bethlehem to see the baby and when they laid eyes on Jesus they knew it was the Son of God.
These stories embody the true nature of the holiday we celebrated each December 25. Christmas is a wonderful time of year to practice generosity by giving gifts, and a great excuse to take time off work to spend time on the things that matter most in like such as family. However, when we practice these secular aspects of the holiday, it is crucial that we remember why Christmas exists in the first place. The Christmas miracle reminds us to have faith in God and in Christ as Savior. We must make ourselves humble like Joseph, Mary, and the Shepherds and be prepared to listen to the Word of God when we may be so blessed to hear it. We must also be ready to prepare the world for the Second Coming of Christ, when the Kingdom of Heaven shall manifest on Earth. For these reasons, we continue to celebrate Christmas.
The birth of Jesus was a truly miraculous event, and one that reverberated throughout time and space. When Jesus was born, wise men or magi from East of Israel saw a sign in the stars. These wise men recognized that star as the coming of the Messiah and like those shepherds, they listened to the portent and traveled a long distance to Jerusalem in order to tell King Herod about the new King of the Jews. Instead of shunning the news, King Herod himself rejoiced. King Herod was no fool; he understood that the coming of Christ had been prophesied. It was only a matter of time before the moment would arise for God's only Son to appear on Earth. King Herod listened to the Magi, asked them to find Jesus, and asked them, "report to me, so that I too may go and worship him," (Matthew 2:8). Herod displays a remarkable amount of humility for a secular political leader. He was willing to recognize the Son of God as the true spiritual King of Jerusalem. Herod therefore teaches us the importance of humility in all our worldly affairs. Like Herod, we should worship Jesus first before taking care of our mundane business.
When we give gifts to our friends, families, and coworkers this year, we can also keep in mind the real meaning of gift giving at Christmas time. In the Bible, we learn that the three wise men from the east brought "gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh" to honor the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:11). The gifts we give to other people should be done with this same spirit of love. Instead of focusing on the material value of the gift, we need to focus on the spirit that is behind the gift. We learn that "it's the thought that counts," but this year we should remember that even more as it becomes too easy to get wrapped up in whether you got the 32 GB iPhone or the 16GB iPhone. Finally, we must always remember that the birth of Jesus Christ heralded in a new era of Peace on Earth. Unfortunately, we human beings are still learning how to embrace Jesus and therefore help maintain peace on the planet. The more faith in Christ we can inspire in others, the greater our chances of seeing world peace are in this world.
In our 36 years of marriage and friendship, I have learned more about myself, life, and the world than I ever could have without you. You have helped me remain true to my faith, and have helped me deepen my connection with God. Our marriage is an example of the type of spiritual union that I wish all people on this planet could have the blessing to experience. I want to take time this Christmas to thank you dearly Evelyn for all the joy and light you have brought and continue to bring in my life. Through thick and thin, good times and bad, sickness and health, you have truly been there with me and for me. Your devotion to me reminds me of Proverbs 18:22 "He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord." This is really true, as I have received favor from the Lord because I have you as my wife. A wife is truly a spiritual blessing. "Houses and wealth are inherited from parents," but a good wife is a blessing from the Lord (Proverbs 19:14).
There is a great spiritual mystery in marriage that I cannot presume to ever comprehend fully. However, I do know that when Jesus tells us that marriage entails two becoming "one flesh," that union is the most powerful connection between two people on earth. This bonding is certainly physical in nature, as the expression of spiritual love can be manifest in physical intimacy. However, the bond we have as husband and wife is far more important than the physical. This bond transcends the mundane world. As we learned about each other and grew closer emotionally, we became more deeply connected on a spiritual level. It is on that level that we relate as husband and wife. Spiritually, we are one.
"What God has joined together, let no one separate," (Matthew 19:6). In an era in which people are becoming disillusioned with marriage and relationships, I believe truly that if we only learned to honor and love each other as we promised when we first married, we would not see so many divorces. What God has joined together should never be rendered asunder. How can we learn anything if we are not willing to go through times of trouble, grow, and move on? I thank you, Evelyn, for putting up with me instead of sacrificing our marriage.
Of course, one of the most important products of a marriage is children. Our children are incredible. With you, Evelyn, I am proud to know the incredible human beings, our children, Tara…