This week, we celebrate the birth of Jesus, Immanuel, God With Us. I read somewhere many years ago that Christians actually have their holiday celebrations reversed. That is, that the holiday that we should spend more time celebrating and doing gift-giving for is Easter, when Jesus died and rose again -- giving us the gift of eternal life.
As we prepare to celebrate His birth, I think that it is worth remembering that, as we give gifts to each other, Jesus has already given us the greatest gift of all. With that in mind, let’s once again this year read the story of the birth of Christ. To help tie His birth into our Old Testament Survey series of lessons, we will use Matthew Chapter 1 through Chapter 2, verse 12.
After reading Matthew 1:1-2:12, consider the following:
- What was the name of the Mother of Boaz, and what was her background?
- What was the name of Solomon’s mother and what sin did his father commit with this woman, and with the woman’s husband?
- Using only Genesis 22 and Matthew 1, how can we tell that God had a plan for saving his creation from the beginning, and that the birth of Jesus was accomplished exactly according to this plan?
- Contrast the attitude of the Jews during the time of Mary "being with child" with the attitude of society today. How would Mary be viewed in today’s society, versus then?
- If today Mary said that the "Holy Spirit" had caused her to be "with child", what are some of the reactions she would get?
- What can we observe in the lives of Mary and Joseph before the baby Jesus is born that provides us an indication of what kind of people they will be after Jesus is born?
- As we consider Joseph and Mary and the baby, we can see why they would be celebrating the birth of Jesus since it was just as God had foretold them during Mary’s pregnancy. We can see that they, and the shepherds in the field, were joyful even though times were difficult -- the government was harsh, and hope seemed a distant dream. Now look at Matt. 2:1-12 and translate this event into a present-day story that we might read in a newspaper about a struggling family whose son suddenly comes into wealth. How would this story play out in society today?
- As this year comes to a close, and we see around us tough financial times, an uncertain economy, and failure of the basic institutions that we depend on, are we also seeing a rise in people visiting or returning to church?
- The Jews believed that Christ would come and put an end to the repressive Roman Rule and that He would restore the Jews to the great nation that they once were. They confused having a strong government with providing peace and security. As a society today, what do we believe will give us peace and security? Is it Christ?
- Why should we be celebrating the birth of Jesus this year in particular?
Today more than ever, there is only one person we can turn to Jesus, the Christ. Imagine the world today if Jesus had never been born; imagine the complete and total lack of hope the dark of night. But Jesus’ birth brings God’s light into a dark and dying world. There is hope eternal and unchanging hope, and a peace beyond understanding. That is what we celebrate this Christmas that Immanuel, God With Us, has been born, lived, died, and rose again and He’s coming again! Hallelujah!
Let’s celebrate that God’s great light has been born into the world, and let’s celebrate that through Jesus, hope reigns eternal.
Have a great and joyful Christmas, and praise Christ for His great gift!