The Christmas Story

christmastreeAbout one month ago we placed a tree in our living room to remind us of something amazing. We placed a star on the top of the tree and wrapped it in lights. All of this to remind us of a time when the stars guided some wise men to a very special child. So just as these wise men were guided by the stars long ago our hearts are guided by the lights on this tree today, to see this very special child during this season. It is only a few days away from when our celebration of this child will begin, yet our celebration for this child shall also never truly end. Let me share with you the real story of Christmas.

The Star
Over 2,000 years ago a star began to shine brightly in the sky. Some Wise men from the east recognized that this star signified the coming of the greatest of Kings. So they began to follow the star, leaving their homes in search of the greatest of Kings, the King of Kings.

Mary The Faithful

At this time there was a young woman named Mary living in Galilee who was preparing to be married to Joseph, a Jewish carpenter. as Mary was tending to her chores an angel appeared to Mary and told her that she would miraculously have a baby by the power of the Holy Spirit. She would carry and give birth to this child and she would name him Jesus.

Mary was afraid and troubled by the words of the angel. not yet being married, Mary questioned the angel, “How will this be? I am not yet married to Joseph.” The angel explained that the child would be God’s own Son and, therefore, “nothing is impossible with God.” Mary was deeply humbled and blessed by this news and she believed the angel of the Lord and rejoiced in God.

Surely Mary remembered with wonder on the words found in Isaiah 7:14 foretelling this event, “The Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).” (NLT)

Joseph The Honorable

While Mary was engaged to Joseph, she miraculously became pregnant through the Holy Spirit, as foretold to her by the angel. When Mary told Joseph she was pregnant, he was deeply saddened because he knew the child was not his own. Joseph did not believe Mary’s story of the angel and God brining her this baby. Joseph decided to divorce Mary which under Jewish law she could be put to death by stoning. But Joseph out of honor and his love for Mary decided to do so quietly so Mary would not be put through any more shame.

The night before Joseph was going to make this decision official and angel appeared to Joseph in a dream. The angel confirmed Mary’s story and assured him that marrying Mary was Gods will. The angel explained to Joseph that the baby Mary was carrying would be named Jesus and that this baby would be the Messiah, Immanuel, God with Us.

When Joseph woke from his dream, he hurried to Mary and told her what the angel had revealed to him. He then took Mary home to be his wife, in spite of the public humiliation he would face. Perhaps this noble quality is one of the reasons God chose him to be the Messiah’s earthly father.

Joseph too must have remembered the words found in Isaiah 7:14, “The Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).” (NLT)

The Census

At this time, Caesar Augustus decreed that a census be taken, and every person in the entire Roman world had to go to his own town to register. Joseph being born in Bethlehem was required to go to Bethlehem to register with Mary. Mary and Joseph left Mary’s family and traveled a great distance to arrive in Bethlehem for the census.

Herod the Wicked

Herod was king of Judea. Herod was a wicked man filled with pride and a desire for power. He had seen the star in the sky and asked his magistrates what this star could mean. None were certain, but there were rumors that this star signified the birth of the King of the Jews. At this time the wise men from the east arrived in Judea as they had been following the star. They had learned that the star signified the birth of the king of the Jews. The wise men sought out the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and asked where the Christ was to be born. The leaders explained that the King of the Jews would be born “In Bethlehem in Judea,” referring to Micah 5:2. So the wise men began to journey towards Bethlehem to greet the King of the Jews. But before they had left Jerusalem Herod secretly met with the wise men and asked them to report back after they had found the child. Herod told the wise men that he too wanted to go and worship the child. But the truth was that Herod was plotting to kill the child.

The Savior is Born

nativitysceneJoseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem but due to the census all of Inns were too crowded. There was no place for Mary and Joseph to stay. Mary could tell she was beginning to go into labor and Joseph spotted a small stable and brought Mary to it. The stable was crude for Mary to deliver the baby, but Joseph could find nowhere else to go. When the baby was born in this stable Mary and Joseph named him Jesus as the angel had asked them. Mary wrapped Jesus in cloths and placed him in a manger in the stable in Bethlehem.

At this time out in the fields, an angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds who were tending their flocks of sheep by night. The angel announced that the Savior had been born in the town of David, Bethlehem. Suddenly a great host of heavenly beings appeared with the angels and began singing praises to God. As the angelic beings departed, the shepherds traveled to Bethlehem to see the Christ-child.
There they found Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus, in the stable.

The wise men arrived in Bethlehem and saw the shepherds gathering near a crude stable. they walked up to the stable and found Mary, Joseph, and a baby. They bowed and worshiped the baby because they knew that he was the King of the Jews and had learned of the prophecies that this child would fulfill. They offered treasures of gold, incense and myrrh to honor him.

The shepherds began to spread the word about this amazing child and everything the angel had said about him. They went on their way praising and glorifying God, amazed that they were able to witness the savior with their own eyes. But Mary kept quiet, treasuring their words and pondering them in her heart. It must have been beyond her ability to grasp, that sleeping in her arms—the tender child she had just borne—was the Savior of the world.

When the wise men left they did not return to Herod. An angel warned them that Herod was plotting to kill the baby, the savior of the world.

This baby, Jesus, is why we celebrate Christmas each year. He is why we put up a Christmas tree filled with lights. The tree reminds us of this story of a baby being born in a manger and God guiding strangers to Him through the stars. So let this tree not be about presents found below but the star standing atop that guides us to the savior.

Christmas is a celebration of Jesus birth, a birth that has forever transformed the world. Before Jesus we had no hope of being with God, because of our sin. Christmas is about celebrating how God became a baby to take on all of our sins and make us right with him. God gave us the greatest of gifts by giving us salvation through Jesus. This is why we too give gifts at this time of year, because we have received much from our savior.

When the Christmas season is over our celebration does not end, but we always look forward to the time of year where we spend time reflecting and focusing on this amazing event, God becoming a man to save each and every one of us.

This story is adapted from the following verses:
[youversion]Matthew 1:18-2:23[/youversion]
[youversion]Luke 1:26-38-2:1-20[/youversion]