In the early 19th century, a war-weary world was anxiously watching the march of Napoleon. In 1809, between the battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo, William E. Gladstone was born in Liverpool (he would served as British Prime Minister four different times); Alfred, Lord Tennyson in Summersby, England (he would become a poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland during much of Queen Victoria's reign and remains one of the most popular British poets); Oliver Wendell Holmes in Boston (he would become an American jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court from 1902 to 1932, and as Acting Chief Justice of the United States January-February 1930); Felix Mendelssohn in Hamburg, Germany (he would become a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early Romantic period); and Abraham Lincoln in Hodgenville, Kentucky (he would become an American politician and lawyer who served as the 16th President of the United States from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865).
Now 207 years later, is there the slightest doubt about the greater contribution to history-those battles or those babies? Of course the answer is those babies. They, no doubt, made the greater contribution to history. So it was with the birth of Jesus. The Bethlehem crowd was all concerned about a census and the power of Rome. They had no inkling that the infinite infant Son of God was asleep in their little town. Only a few shepherds hurried to see Him who was born in a stable. And as they left, they glorified God.
You see, we can get caught up in the commercial busyness that we overlook how great a gift this little Babe was. ~Adapted from Daily Bread, December 23, 1990.
This brings me to the main idea of the message God has given me from His Word to deliver you at this special hour in your life and my life. Please I want you pay careful attention to it, not just with your head, but more importantly with your heart - where the Holy Spirit is so eager and enthused to plant the seed of God's eternal and enduring truth - in order to change genuine born again Christians - more into the blessed likeness of Jesus Christ-the Son of God and Sanctifier of the Church-and to convict unregenerate and unrepentant sinners of their sin of unbelief - mercifully and miraculously leading them today to genuine repentance and personal saving faith in Jesus Christ - the seeker of the lost sinners and the Savior of the world. So here is our message in a nutshell. Please I humbly urge you to pay very close attention to it with an open heart and an open willing to embrace it and express it in your life. The greatest of all the gifts God has given to change the eternal destiny of lost and sinful humanity is the Christ Child, Jesus! To say it simply, God's gift to a dying world is the life-giving Savior at the First Christmas! No wonder, Paul, who describes himself as one untimely born, the least of all the apostles who is not fit to be called an apostle - jubilantly and joyfully declares: "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift" (2 Corinthians 9:15).
Folks, friends, faithful followers of Christ among us here today and fellow believers in the fold and flock, fellowship and family of God, the Bible is going to gloriously and glowingly shine its bright and brilliant light on the holy and historic moment when the Christ Child - the greatest of all God's gifts to mankind - was dedicated to the Lord. Often, this holy and historic event, is ignored or overlooked in the telling of the Christmas story! But how special, how significant this is to understanding the Christ Child's immeasurable value and contribution to the human race. So if you have your Bibles, turn them to Luke 2:21-24. Actually, Luke is the only Gospel writer who recorded the presentation of the Christ Child to the Lord in the temple at the First Christmas.
We have before us a passage of Scripture which is only two sentences in the original language. The NASB, the most literal translation of the Bible into our English language, also rendered it in two sentences. It is a passage which can be accurately described as a passage of completion and consecration. It is a passage of completion because it vividly describes to us that two of the ceremonies spoken of could only be carried out after the completion of a specified period. You see, the circumcision of the Christ Child could only be performed when eight days were completed. Similarly, following the birth of a son, the mother had to wait forty days before going to the temple for her cleansing or purification. Going to the temple before the completion of the forty-day period would be a violation of God's clear command and render the ceremonies unacceptable to God. It is a passage of consecration because it visually depicts the consecration of the Child Child to the Lord at the temple. The Christ Child who had come from the very bosom of the Father would be consecrated to Him at the First Christmas. What a great and glorious moment!
Having just whetted your spiritual appetite, please allow me to give you a concise overview of our Christmas Story as recorded by Dr. Luke, the beloved physician. First of all, we will examine what the Bible discloses about the practice of circumcising the Christ Child in verse 21a. The Bible unashamedly and unapologetically shines its light on the practice of circumcision on the Christ Child. Yes, the Christ Child would submit Himself to the practice of circumcision. Why? What is the significance of His circumcision? What does it reveal about His true identity? Well, with the help of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Scriptures, we will answer these questions in a moment. Second, we will elaborate on the personal name of the Christ Child in verse 21b. Before the Christ Child was conceived and born, God the Father Himself designated a personal name to be given to the Christ Child. It is the name "Jesus." The sweetest name of all. What does it mean? What does it reveal about the mission of the Christ Child? Well, again, we will answer these questions in the course of our study of this Christmas story. Third, we will explore what the Bible teaches about the purification ceremony in verse 22a. What's involved in the purification ceremony? Where was the purification done? Is the Bible teaching that there is uncleanness in the Christ Child which needed cleansing through the purification ceremony? Well, again, with the help of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Scriptures, we will seek answers to these crucial questions. Fourth, the Bible will endear our hearts with its vivid description of the presentation of the Christ Child to the Lord in verses 22b-24a. The presentation of the Christ Child to the Lord was a holy and historic moment at the First Christmas. Fifth and finally, we will explain the Bible's teaching regarding thepoverty of the parents of the Christ Child in verse 24b.
Having given you a brief overview of our gospel story, let's now delve and dig deeper into it to discover the rich, relevant and rewarding lessons the Holy Spirit is so eager and enthuse to impress upon our hearts in order to do His special and supernatural work of molding and making genuine born again believers more into the blessed image of Jesus Christ, our Life, our Lord, our Lover, our Leader, in this present life and in the life soon to come. We begin first of all by examining the:
I. Practice of circumcising the Christ Child in verse 21a.
At least three different ceremonies are described in our gospel story. These different ceremonies took place in two different locations-which were significant in the life of the Christ Child - who is the greatest of all God's gifts to us. These locations are Bethlehem and Jerusalem. He was born in Bethlehem. He died and was buried and rose again in Jerusalem.
Just as the Bible does not shy away from speaking about Christ's horrific crucifixion, so also it does not shy away from speaking about Christ's humble submission to the practice of circumcision. Circumcision of the Christ Child is the first of the three ceremonies described in this passage. His circumcision took place when He was only eight days old. That is why the Bible says in the first part of verse 21: "And when eight days were completed before His circumcision,.." Literally, this reads: "And when He was eight days so as to circumcise Him,..." You see, the circumcision ceremony was an important event to the family of a Jewish baby boy. This is because Yahweh Himself specifically commanded circumcision on the eighth day when He was beginning to form His holy nation (see Genesis 17:12-14; 21:4). Furthermore, Yahweh reaffirmed this command throughout the history of Israel (see Leviticus 12:1-3; cf. Exodus 4:24ff.; Joshua 5:2ff). The ceremony of circumcision was a time of joy when friends and family would celebrate the baby's becoming part of God's covenant nation. In other words, the practice of circumcising a Jewish baby boy on the eighth day of his life was a symbol of his inclusion among God's chosen and covenant people, that is, the descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. As a symbolic act, circumcision was an affirmation of faith in the God who had given promises to Abraham and his posterity. The ceremony of circumcision is essential because it admits the circumcised baby boy into covenant with God. It also symbolized the Jews' separation from the Gentiles and their unique relationship with Yahweh, the one true God of the Bible - who is the self-existing, the self-sufficient, the sovereign and supreme Deity of the universe.
In fact, so sacred is the practice of circumcising a male child on the eighth day that it could be carried out on a Sabbath when the Law forbade almost every other act which was not absolutely essential. The Lord Jesus would Himself later use this long standing sacredness of circumcision in defending His healing of a man who had been thirty years in his sickness (see John 5:5; John 7:22-23).
Now there are three important questions that must be asked and answered at this juncture. First, where was the Christ Child circumcised? Was it in the Jerusalem temple or somewhere else? Second, what does the circumcision ceremony teach us about the parents of the Christ Child? Third, what does the circumcision ceremony reveal about the identity of the Christ Child? Let's now answer these questions in the order they were asked.
First, the Christ Child was not circumcised in the Jerusalem temple. Rather, He was circumcised in Bethlehem - meaning "the house of bread." But you say, 'Bethlehem is not even mentioned in this passage. So why are you saying that the Christ Child was circumcised in Bethlehem?' Luke tells us earlier in his gospel account, specifically in Luke 2:4-7, 11, that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the city of David. Later, in our passage, Luke tells us that it was only after the days of their purification were completed (we will talk more about that) that the Christ Child was brought to to the Jerusalem temple (verse 22). You see friends, some people, without carefully examining everything written in this passage, jump to the erroneous conclusion that Jesus was circumcised in the temple. After all, it is His Father's house and He is the Son of God. Yes, it is His Father's house all right and He is the Son of God. But He was not circumcised in Jerusalem.
Second, please listen carefully now! The circumcision ceremony teaches us that the First Christmas was all about practicing the truth of God. It's about performing what has been prescribed in God's Word. That is the God-honoring way to celebrate Christmas. You see, Joseph and Mary willingly complied with the Law of circumcision for their first born Son. Why? For them, life was about following in the ways of God. Life was about faithfulness to the one true God who Himself has been faithful to them throughout their lives. Life was about focusing on doing first things first. What about us? Is life for us all about following in the ways of God? Is life for us all about focusing on first things first? Is life about faithfulness to the God who has been and will be faithful to us all throughout our sojourn here on earth? Practicing the truth is important to God and must be important to the believer in Jesus Christ. In other words, it's essential that we do not just talk the talk, but also walk the walk. You see, the Christmas story is not about talking the talk, but walking the walk. God Himself just didn't talk the talk of sending His Son to be the Savior of the world. But He also walked the walk of sending us the Savior we desperately need in the Christ Child at the First Christmas.
Third, please observe this carefully! What the circumcision ceremony reveals about the true identity of the Christ Child is that He is the God-Man. He is God who became Man. He is fully God and fully Man. In other words, the circumcision clearly and convincingly affirmed that the Christ Child was God in human flesh. Since the Christ Child had come into the human family, and since He had been born under the Law, He followed them. He would be made in the likeness; not only of flesh, but of sinful flesh, that is, like you and me (see Romans 8:3). Though circumcision was a painful operation, yet Jesus the God-Man would willingly submit Himself to it, to give us a vivid picture of His early obedience and willingness to suffer for our sake. How precious! So the circumcision ceremony for the Christ Child at the First Christmas is recorded for us to emphasize His humanity. In other words, when the eternal Son of God was born in a lowly stable in Bethlehem, He came as "one of us" and lived the perfect life we could not live.
According to Jewish custom, on the same day of being circumcised, the child was named. That is why the Bible now carefully and concisely reveals to us the:
II. Personal name of the Christ Child in verse 22b.
You see, it had become customary among God's chosen people to name a child at circumcision. Every Jewish baby boy was circumcised and named on eighth day (cf. Luke 1:59-63; Philippians 3:5). That is exactly how it happened in the life of the Christ Child at the First Christmas. "His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb."
Remember, we learned that life for Joseph and Mary was about following in the ways of God and focusing on first things first. Well, we see that again in the naming of the Christ Child. They obeyed the Lord in naming the Christ Child "Jesus." You see, it was God's idea to name the Christ Child "Jesus." Like a Father, Almighty God wanted to name His own Beloved and Begotten Son. As such, God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary and specifically directed her to call "the Holy Offspring" who would be conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit, "Jesus" (see Luke 1:26-35). This was before the Christ Child was actually conceived in the womb of virgin Mary. After Mary conceived the Christ Child, we are told that Joseph, her husband planned to send her away secretly. But before Joseph would act on his plan, an angel of the Lord (his name was not revealed) appeared to him in a dream, instructing him not to follow through with his plan. He was told to follow God's plan - which included taking Mary as his wife and calling the Christ Child "Jesus" (see Matthew 1:18-21). So you can see that Joseph and Mary were not disobedient to the heavenly vision of calling the Christ Child "Jesus."
The name "Jesus" is the Greek equivalent of "Yeshua" (Joshua) in Hebrew. It means "Yahweh saves" or "the Lord saves." It is interesting to note that at the time of His birth, the name "Jesus" was in no way unique. In fact, it was a popular name for boys among the Jews as the name John was (cf. Colossians 4:11). Actually, Josephus, the first century Jewish historian detailed 20 men of distinction known by the name "Jesus", ten of them were contemporaries of the Child of Mary. The name "Jesus" or "Yeshua" or "Joshua" recalled the Old Testament Joshua, the successor of Moses, who was the commander of Israel, and conqueror of Canaan, and Joshua, the high priest of Israel after their return form Babylonian captivity (Zechariah 6:11, 13).
The important question for us to consider is: why was the Christ Child called "Jesus?" Why did God choose a "common name" for the Christ Child? Please listen carefully now! Almighty God chose a name to teach sinners like us the most important lesson we could ever learn in this life. And what is that lesson? Yahweh saves or the Lord saves. You see, our heavenly and holy Father, carefully thought about what He wanted to name His One and Only Beloved and Begotten Son and the message He intended for the name to convey to lost and sinful humanity. It's as if Almighty God wanted to be absolutely certain that none of us missed the point that Yahweh saves. The name "Jesus" reveals His mission on earth. It is to save sinners. Please let's all say" "Jesus saves." The question is:has Jesus saved you? Remember, you cannot save yourself. Good behavior will not save you. Good works will not save you either. Giving to charity will not save you. Only Jesus can save you and me.
Pastor and preacher Dr. David Jeremiah shares this wonderful insight on the name "Jesus." He writes:
It would interest you to know that there are only a select few people in the Bible who had the awesome privilege of being named by God before they were conceived or born and after they were born. Guess who was the first to have the awesome privilege of being named by God before he was born? It's a big surprise. It's the son of Hagar and Abram! "Ishmael," meaning "God hears," was the first person to have that privilege (see Genesis 16:11). The second person was "Solomon," the second son of David and Bathsheba (see 1 Chronicles 22:9). Solomon means "peaceful." The third person is "Maher-shalal-hasbbaz," the son of Isaiah the prophet. In this case, the Lord gave the name after "Maher-shalal-hasbaz"-meaning "swift is the booty, speedy is the prey," was born (Isaiah 8:3). The fourth person to be named by the Lord after he was born was "Jezreel," meaning 'God sows," -a son of the prophet Hosea and Gomer (Hosea 1:4). The fifth was "Lo-ruhamah," meaning "she has not not obtained compassion." She was the daughter of Hosea and Gomer (Hosea 1:6). The Lord gave her this name after she was born. The sixth person was "Lo-ammi,"-meaning "not My people." He was the second son of Hosea and Gomer. He was given this name by the Lord Himself after he was born (Hosea 1:9). The seventh was "John," - meaning "the Lord is gracious." He was the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth. Like Jesus, he was given the name "John" by an angel of the Lord before he was conceived and born (Luke 1:13).
Having examined the practice of circumcision as it relates to the Christ Child, having also elaborated on the personal name of the Christ Child, the Bible now brings us to the point of exploring what it teaches about the:
III. Purification ceremony in verse 22a.
The second ceremony the Bible brings to our attention in this gospel story at the First Christmas is the purification ceremony. Please notice what the Bible says in the first part of verse 22: "And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed,..." Please understand that the purification is not a one day ceremony. It takes more than a day. You see, following the birth of a son, the mother had to wait forty days before going to the temple to offer sacrifices for her purification-a reference to uncleanness of childbirth. In other words, a woman who bore a son was ceremonially unclean for forty days, if it was a girl, for eighty days. She would go about her household and her daily business but she could not enter the temple. So it is clear that the purification ceremony which required forty days to complete took place in Bethlehem, not in Jerusalem - where the temple was. Notice the Bible says the purification was "according to the law of Moses." Yahweh Himself specifically instructed His people in Leviticus 12, through the prophet Moses, about how He wanted the purification ceremony done. "And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. Then she shall remain in the blood of her purification for thirty three days; she shall not touch any consecrated thing, nor enter the sanctuary, until the days of her purification are completed" (Leviticus 12:3-4).
So what the Bible is revealing to us about Mary and Joseph is exactly what we saw at the beginning of this story. That, life for Joseph and Mary was all about following in the ways of God, being faithful to God, and focusing on first things first. Sadly, for some people today, life is about following the money trail. For others, life is about chasing after power, prestige, popularity, prosperity and pleasure. Still for others, life is about satisfying their selfish passions through substance abuse and sexual immorality. Friend, what is your life about? What are people saying your life is about today? When your life had run its course on earth, what would people say your life was all about? Would they say your life was all about following in the ways of God? Or would they sadly say your life was all about following your own way? He was Mr. My Own Way! She was Miss or Madam or Misses My Own Way!
Now please notice the Bible says, "their purification," not "her purification." So the crucial question is: Is the Bible teaching here that there is uncleanness in the Christ Child which must be cleansed through the purification ceremony? Is the Bible teaching that there is impurity in the Christ Child that requires cleansing? Please listen carefully now! Although the Christ Child had no impurity to be cleansed from, yet He submitted to the purification ceremony as He did to circumcision. Why? Because He was made sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). So in the "purification" of the Christ Child, God is already indicating to us the gracious work He will be doing in us to cleanse us from the filthiness and corruption which we brought to the world with us - to make us spiritually purified.
The first two ceremonies spoken of in verses 21 and 22, prepared the way for the third ceremony to be carried out for the Christ Child at the First Christmas - that is, the:
IV. Presentation of the Christ Child to the Lord in verses 22b-24a.
Joseph and Mary didn't drag their feet. They didn't dilly-dally. They didn't delay. As soon as the forty days of the purification ended, they wasted no time at all in presenting the Christ Child to the Lord. That is why the Bible says in verses 22b-24a: "they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "EVERY first-born MALE THAT OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD" and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord,..."
Originally, the first born of both people and animals were to be dedicated to the Lord. This is because He had decreed that they belonged to Him (see Exodus 13:1-2). The animals were sacrificed but the human beings were to serve God throughout their lives. They were to form the priestly class. Later, God set aside the tribe of Levi to serve as priests (see Exodus 28:1-2). So the ceremony included "buying back" or redeeming the child from God by the payment of five shekels (see Numbers 18:16). This way the parents acknowledged that the child belonged to God, who alone has power to give life. In other words, the first born son was to be presented to the Lord, and then so to speak, bought back with an offering.
Please notice that there are four specific things revealed about the presentation of the Christ Child. First, is the place of the presentation. The presentation took place in one of the courts of the temple. That is why the Bible specifically says, "they brought Him up to Jerusalem." You see, one always goes up to Jerusalem because it is on a mountain. Since Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Joseph's and Mary's journey from Bethlehem would cover a distance of about six miles. This would be Jesus' first visit to Jerusalem. There would be many more to come. Remember that they had no modern mode of transport, such as taxis or trains. Their best mode of transportation would be a donkey. Second, is the person to whom the Christ Child is presented. The Bible specifically says "to present Him to the Lord." The Greek verb translated "to present" is "paristemi." It also means "to bring into God's presence," "to offer," "to dedicate," "to yield," "to put at one's disposal." It denotes "to place beside" when used transitively. So what the Bible is teaching us here is that Joseph and Mary offered, dedicated, brought into the Lord's presence, or put the Christ Child at the disposal of the Lord and heavenly Father. It's as if Mary and Joseph are saying to the Lord, "We wholeheartedly and willingly put the promised Messiah at Your disposal to fulfill all You intend to through His life - as You have promised in Your word to us!" What incredible faith demonstrated by Joseph and Mary! What an amazing scene it was on that First Christmas when the Christ Child was presented to the Lord! But you ask: what makes the scene amazing? Please watch this now! Though the Christ Child had just newly come from the bosom of the Father, yet He was presented to Him by the hands of a priest, as if He had been a stranger that needed someone to introduce Him. Bible Commentator Matthew Henry writes:
Third is the prescription for the presentation. Please notice that the Bible says that the written direction for the presentation ceremony is found in what is written or said in the Law of the Lord. That is why the Bible says "to present Him to the Lord as it is written in the Lord." The use of the expression "it is written" (Greek: gegraptai) refers absolutely to what is found written in Holy Scripture and denotes legislative act or enactment. In the sphere of revelation, the written records hold this authoritative position, and gegraptai always implies an appeal to the indisputable and legal authority of the passage quoted. ~Adapted from the Hebrew-Greek Study Bible, p. 1819. The point here is that the presentation of the Christ Child was to the Lord and it was based on what the Lord Himself prescribed in His word. Joseph and Mary were committed to doing things God's way and God's way alone. In fact, the Holy Spirit would emphasize their commitment to following in the ways of God when it repeats the expression "in the Law of the Lord," in the first part of verse 24: "And to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord." Some people want to serve or follow God, but they want to do it in their own way, not according to what is written in the Word of God. My friend, it doesn't matter how well-meaning you are, serving or following God in your own way always leads to a dead end street. Joseph and Mary had so much respect for the written Word of God. For them, the Word of God is the indisputable and legal authority to follow in life. What about you? Do you have a high regard for the Bible? Do you recognize it as the only indisputable and legal authority for what we are to believe and how we are to conduct ourselves in this life?
Jesus was God's Son but His family carried out these ceremonies for Him according to God's Law. By combining the performance of these ceremonies into this single narrative, Doctor Luke is showing us that Jesus was reared with God's Law. He will later tell us in Luke 2:39 that the family of Jesus "performed everything according to the Law of the Lord." You see, Jesus was not born above the Law, instead He fulfilled it perfectly. Later, the Lord Jesus Himself would testify: "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish; but to fulfill" (Matthew 5:17). Christ was not conceived and born in sin as we are, yet because He was born under the Law, He complied with these ceremonies. What humility!
The fourth truth revealed to us about the presentation is its purpose. The Bible clearly and concisely reveals the purpose of the presentation in these words: "Every first-born male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord," (v. 23b). Notice the expression, "holy to the Lord," [Greek: hagion to kurio]. The word "holy" [Greek: hagios] also means "set apart," "sanctified," or "consecrated." Its fundamental idea is separation, consecration, devotion to the service of deity, sharing in God's purity and abstaining from earth's defilement. ~Adapted from Hebrew-Greek Study Bible, p. 1797.
In every way, the presentation of the Christ Child was a holy and hallowed moment at the First Christmas. Here is the Holy Child Jesus, the Holy Son of God, the Holy One of God, the Holy One of Israel, who Himself is the embodiment of holiness being presented to the Holy Father solely for the purpose of being holy to the Lord! This, I tell you friends, is the wonder of wonders beheld by the holy angels before the throne of God in silent awe and adoration!
The Christmas story as recorded in Luke 2:21-24 ends on a very tender and touching note. This is because it reveals to us the:
V. Poverty of the parents of the Christ Child in verse 24b.
But you ask: What evidence is there that shows the poverty of the parents of the Christ Child? The evidence is found in the sacrifice they offered at the end of the presentation ceremony. Notice what the Bible specifies at the end of verse 24 as the sacrifice that was offered: "A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons." You see, ordinary parents were supposed to bring a lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or turtledove for a sin offering. But in the case of the poor, they were permitted to bring a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons (see Leviticus 12:6-8). Joseph and Mary could not afford a sacrificial lamb simply because they were poor or of modest means. They were not among the well-to-do who could afford a lamb. All they could offer was a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. In fact, the offering of a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons was technically called "the offering of the poor." Their offering, therefore, reflects the poverty into which the Christ Child was born. This is mind-boggling! The One through whom all things came into being (John 1:3), the One by whom all things were created (Colossians 1:16), the One for whom all things were created (Colossians 1:16), the One in whom all things hold together (Colossians 1:17), the One who has dominion over all things (Daniel 4:22), the One in whom all things are summed up, things in the heavens and things on the earth (Ephesians 1:10), the One who alone could say, "all things that the Father has are Mine" (John 16:15) - was born into a poor family! Perhaps, this helped Jesus to identify with the poor of the land (cf. Luke 6:20).
Bible Commentator William Barclay shares this pertinent and poignant insight on the poverty of the parents of the Christ Child.
So how this first century Christmas story apply to us who are living in the twenty first century? If you are already a genuine born again believer, this is how this first century Christmas story applies to you. First of all, it reminds us afresh that practicing the truth is important to Almighty God and must be important to us. Following in the ways of God, focusing on doing what is written in the Word of God, faithfulness to God in performing what He has revealed in the Bible, through the power of the Holy Spirit, is what this Christmas story is about. It's a story that challenges us not just to talk the talk, but to walk the walk. That's what Joseph and Mary did to honor the Lord their God. And that's exactly what God expects you to do to honor Him, not only during this Christmas but the rest of your life and my life. Second, it reaffirms the importance of presenting ourselves willingly and wholeheartedly to the Lord. If the Christ Child, the Holy One of God, the Holy Son of God, put Himself willingly and wholeheartedly at His Father's disposal, how much more do you need to put yourself willingly and wholeheartedly at the Lord's disposal? You can say to the Lord today in rededicating your life to Him: "Lord, You gave me my life in the first place. Today, I offer it up anew to you to make me all that You want me to be. Lord, I surrender anew my heart to You, make it your throne and rule in it today and the rest of my days on earth. I yield afresh my life to You and You alone. I put myself at Your disposal for You to accomplish all that You intend to accomplish in and through and with and for my life." Third it reassures us that poverty cannot stand in the way of faithfully serving the One true God of the Bible. Mary and Joseph were very poor. But their poverty did not prevent them from faithfully serving the Lord their God. Jesus, who was born into a poor and ordinary home where there were no luxuries - understands your poverty and mine! Please, don't buy into the lie that you can only faithfully serve God when you are rolling in money. Remember, Jesus, Your Lord and Savior and mine, knows all about being poor and the difficulties of making ends meet.
Now if you are not a genuine born again believer in Jesus Christ, this is how this Christmas story applies to you. Please listen! In your state of unbelief, you cannot present yourself holy to the Lord. In other words, you cannot put yourself at His disposal. Why? Your life is full of sin. Your life is full of rebellion. In fact, what is awaiting you is the wrath of God and the righteous judgment of God and a destiny of being cast out into the lake of fire where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, not just for a year or two, but for all eternity. But all that can change for you today because God loves you and does not delight in your death and perdition in your sin and rebellion.The Bible says, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16). Simply admit to Jesus today that you are indeed a sinner. Acknowledge to Jesus today that you cannot save yourself from the wrath and judgment of Almighty God by trying to be good and doing good works. Accept today, Jesus' free and full offer of forgiveness for all your sins - only on the basis of His death on the cross for your sins, His burial to put away your sins, His resurrection from the dead on the third day to bring you into a right standing with a holy and righteous God, and you will be saved and set apart for His purposes, not only in this present life, but also in the life soon to come. If the Holy Spirit has convicted you today to admit to Jesus that you are a sinner, to acknowledge to Him that you cannot save yourself, and to accept His free offer of forgiveness for all your sins, please contact us to encourage you in your new life in Jesus! Thank God!
"To the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen" (1 Timothy 1:17).
Presentation of the Christ Child!
We Proclaim Jesus.
GOD BLESS YOU.