Three days after this is published, it will be Dec. 25. So, of course, you expect this to be about Christmas. But have you ever ... wait a minute. Let's start somewhere else.
"Joy to the World the Lord Has Come!" "Angels We Have Heard on High".... Those songs, and others, were prompted by the message given to the shepherd out in the fields with their sheep. "Silent Night," "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" and many others were written about a special baby that was born. "We Three Kings" and others were written about several Persian noblemen who visited Joseph, Mary and the toddler Jesus about a year later in their home.
Who was this famous baby that changed the world? Or, since babies don't change society, the question should be, Who is this Person that changed the world?
The Book of Matthew starts with Jesus' genealogy, then verse 18 begins the detailed account of his birth. Mark starts with the beginning of Jesus' ministry. Luke starts with the history behind Luke's Gospel, then verse 26 begins a detailed account of Jesus' birth. But the Gospel of John starts prior to the beginning of mankind and prior to the creation of the earth.
John 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Verse 3 tells us the Word created everything in the universe. Verse 14, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."
John 1:2 bounces me back to Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." By this we know that the Word, Jesus, Who had no beginning, created the cosmos.
Okay, now we can think about Christmas, Dec. 25. Was Jesus born at this time of year? Probably not, but that's another story and don't worry about it. We're celebrating the birth of the Person mentioned in John 1:1 and Genesis 1:1 – God in human form. He is the greatest dichotomy of all time. For the first – and only – time in history, a real God was born as a human.
The Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and many others developed myths, legends and fantasies of gods creating themselves, gods being born, gods squabbling over territorial rights, fighting and killing each other and a whole lot more. Their pantheons of gods were memorials of either great imaginations or possibly of demon activity within mankind's history.
Many citizens of those nations worshipped their gods out of fear and offered sacrifices, including their own children, to those gods to appease their anger and to gain good business ventures and harvests.
But Genesis 1:1, John 1:1 and the remainder of Scripture tell a different story. The one and only God did not create Himself because He never had a beginning. He is The Great I Am. God didn't come to squabble or fight with anyone. Instead He came to give life, redeem us, give peace, forgiveness, security and a lot more. It would cost Him His natural life to accomplish it. But He came prepared with that in mind, and nothing would deter Him from fulfilling His mission.
The angels told Mary to name the baby Jehoshua, which means Jehovah is salvation. Through time, it was shortened to Joshua, and through Latin influence, we eventually have the name Jesus.
Have you ever thought about all that? That's what Christmas is all about. (Christ-mas: a mass or meeting about Christ.)
"In the little village of Bethlehem, there lay a Child one day and the sky was bright with a holy light, o'er the place where Jesus lay.
"'Twas a humble birthplace, but O how much God gave to us that day, from the manger bed what a path was led, what a perfect, holy way.
"Alleluia! How the angels sang. Alleluia, how it rang! And the sky was bright with a holy light, 'twas the birthday of a King." By William Harold Neidlinger; 1890.
Display your lights, give gifts, share your meals -- either scrumptious or meager. Listen to concerts, sing the Hallelujah Chorus and Christmas carols. Visit family, renew friendships.
But always keep in mind why Jesus came. Even as a baby, He was God. But He came to grow up and give His life for us so that we may have eternal life with Him in heaven.
Merry Christmas, friends.
-- S. Eugene Linzey is an author, mentor and speaker. Send comments and questions to [email protected] Visit his web site at www.genelinzey.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.