Isaiah 7:14; “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a Son, and she will call His name Immanuel”.
During the course of these Christmas devotions we have looked at many aspects of the importance of Christ’s incarnation. From the fulfilment of prophesies to the response and obedience of many characters we see in our nativity scenes. Today I would like to look at one of the most important parts of the Christmas narrative. The Virgin Birth. In Christianity there are certain things that are at the core of our faith, that must never be compromised. The Virgin Birth, Christ’s Death and Resurrection and the His Ascension are some of these essentials. They are what I call the 4 pillars of Christ life. We must able to defend and understand why these are factual truths. Unfortunately the doctrine of the virgin birth has been both twisted or outright denied by many.
The book of Romans speaks quite clearly of the sin nature that we are born into due to the sin of Adam. Every person that is born is born into this sin, whether this is palatable or not, that is the reality of all our beginnings. Since we are born into sin it means that it is impossible for any of us to be 100% sinless. The wrath of God would only be satisfied by a perfect, sinless offering. No man born from a man and a woman could perform such an act, due to their inherited original sin. No angel could be our substitutional sacrifice. And neither could God defy His words to Adam that ‘the day you eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you will die’ and simply create ‘another Adam’. There was ONLY ONE WAY. It had to be Jesus Himself coming to earth via supernatural means, thus avoiding the seed of original sin. If the Virgin Birth was not true, then ALL of Christianity crumbles. This is how important this event is. No one else has been born in such a way. Unfortunately, when you read the Catechism of the Catholic Church (490-493) it attributes the same avoidance of the inherited sin of Adam to the highly blessed Mary. This is called the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. To put anyone, even a women as great as Mary on the same level as or Lord is an erroneous. Neither is it correct to suggest that the ‘Perpetual Virginity’ of Mary is accurate either (499). The Gospel writer, Matthew quells this issue in Matthew 13:55.
This Christmas let us be in awe of the miraculous event that made our salvation possible.
No other person, no other way. Jesus Only.
Matt 1:21; “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He save His people from their sins”.
‘Save people from their sins?’….. I have often found that many people think that they are ‘good people’ and live ‘good lives’ and don’t believe that they need rescuing from their wrongdoing. I am sure that this is not an alien concept to you either; you must have heard people say the same thing. Unfortunately, the reality is devastatingly different. We are all sinners at our very core and the seed of original sin is in each and everyone one of us from birth. Our hearts are naturally dark and evil and yet many people refuse to recognize this fact. They will observe that they have not committed any great sins, that they have not hurt people intentionally and are in no need of a savior.
Sin is ingrained in us so much, that even the youngest amongst us are susceptible to it. I remember when I was growing up that mam and dad wanted to teach me, Jonathan and Rachel a lesson in self-control. They bought each of us a plastic barrel with a twist top. Mine was blue, Jonathan’s green and Rachel’s was pink. Placed in the ‘biscuit barrels’ were 21 varied biscuits. (Cookies for the American’s amongst us). We were told that we could have free access to these biscuits, BUT, once they were gone, there were no more until the following week. Three biscuits a day should’ve been sufficient, right? Oh, there was one more thing; if you made it through the week and you had one or more biscuits left, you would receive a special individually wrapped chocolate biscuit. Well, I certainly failed this lesson in self-control. I think by Tuesday, all mine had ‘vanished’. Gluttony never tasted so good. However, I quickly understood that I had just forfeited my chocolate biscuit reward. Or, had I? I devised a plan that included me telling my siblings that I suspected biscuit thievery was happening and that if they allowed me to ‘watch over’ their biscuit barrel, I would make sure that none would go missing. Being the oldest I banked on them feeling safe under my watchful supervision. Mission accomplished, more for me. If only my parents weren’t smarter than me, I would have got away with it. This may be a comical family story but it shows once again that we ALL need saving from our sins, regardless of age, morals or lifestyle.
Today we have so many movies being churned out by Hollywood where the main character is a ‘Superhero’. Someone that comes and saves the day and usually mankind. Let us not forget that there is really only one Superhero. His name is Jesus.
Luke 2:11; “For today in the city David there has been for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord”.
In 1847, Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure was the commissionaire of wines in a small French town. Known more for his poetry than his church attendance, it probably shocked Placide when his parish priest asked the commissionaire to pen a poem for Christmas mass. Nevertheless, the poet was honored to share his talents with the church. Using the gospel of Luke as his guide, Placide imagined witnessing the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Thoughts of being present on the blessed night inspired him to write was then called “Cantique de Noel”. So happy was he with his poem that he felt a need to find a musician to do what he could not. So he contacted his friend Adolphe Charles Adams for help. Adolphe was able to add the music to the poem just in time for the song that we now call “O Holy Night” to be performed on Christmas Eve. Fast forward now to Christmas Eve 1906, and to a man called Reginald Fessenden. Using a new type of generator, Fessenden spoke into a microphone and, for the first time in history, a man’s voice was broadcast over the airwaves: “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed”. After reading from Luke 2 he picked up his violin and place a full rendition of ‘O Holy Night’. So, the first words ever transmitted over the air, were words from the Bible. And the first song, a song about the birth of Christ the Lord. How wonderful it is know that God’s Word went forward first on that Christmas season.
It makes me think of the ‘Bible App for Kids’ that went forth on Thanksgiving Day. To see that God’s Word was the number 1 kids and educational app download on a day such as Thanksgiving, has echoes of the night that Fessenden read from Luke 2 and picked up that violin. To see the App reach well over 1 million kids in just six days is simply astonishing. From the printing press, to the airwaves, to the digital age, may God’s truth that Christ is the Lord receive pre-eminence in everything.
“Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
O night divine, O night, O night divine”
Matthew 1:20; “But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraidto take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit”.
As we come to the close of the year, do you find yourself at a crossroad? A moment when the tantalizing prospect of something new is just around the corner, yet you know it largely relies of you choosing the right path. If you are not experiencing this I am sure you remember a time when you were in the very position? When a single decision could very well shape the rest of your life or at the very least the next chapter in your life. The thing that I find interesting about a crossroad is that it has numerous options for us to take. Do we go to the left, do we go to the right or do we keep going straight forward. This is very different to a Cul-de-sac, that looks like an road that leads somewhere to find out that it is a dead end street. Sometimes when we arrive at these pivotal moments in our life we have a tendency to treat them like a Cul-de-sac and think that all hope is gone and that we have reached a dead end. What if Joseph had looked at this chapter in his life as a dead end? What would the outcome have been??? But, he did not view it so, he saw it as it was….a crossroads. Here we see Joseph wondering what type of action to take as Mary is now supernaturally pregnant. (No man in history has been in his situation). Which road was he going to take? Was he going to disgrace her or hide her? Well, we all know what his decision was. He planned to put her away secretly. The Word of God tells us that whilst at this crossroad in his life, he ‘considered what he would do’, and when he did this the Lord sent an angel to him in a dream and reassured him everything was going to be alright. And told him which road to take.
Take this example of Joseph to heart, understand that what ever the crossroad is that you may find yourself at, it does have options, there is hope, it is not a dead end. It is up to you to consider your options and seek the Lord. He will give guidance to you just as he did to Joseph. You can turn a crossroad from being something that is daunting into something that is exciting and wonderfully blessed.
And most importantly, look at what the angel said to Joseph, “do not be afraid“.