SanLo Community, an update for the week of December 23, 2018…
Thank you Pastor Scott for the message from Matthew 2:16-23, “Merry CHRISTmas.” Jesus was born so God could have a personal relationship with us. If you are like many people in this country, you celebrate Christmas in some form. You decorate a tree, or put lights in front of the house or send cards or give out gifts. And those are all awesome things! But none of those things are what Christmas is really about. There is more to Christmas than Santa and presents. We will talk about the real meaning of Christmas. How can we know the real meaning of Christmas?
First, we need to see the big picture. (vv.16-18) The Wise men were told by Herod to report to him where Jesus was born. But they were warned not to, so they did not. God warned them which shows that God is in control. God is all about the big picture. Herod was all about himself and the now. He was afraid of Jesus (2:3) for many reasons. He was given the title “King of the Jews” by Rome but the Jews never accepted that. Herod was not a rightful heir to the throne of David but Jesus was. So Herod was afraid Jesus would become king. Herod was protecting his kingdom, his way of life. Herod missed the point too so he took action. He had all the baby boys born about the same time as Jesus killed. Herod was so concerned that he would lose power that he missed the whole point of Jesus being born. Jesus didn’t come to take Herod’s throne. He wanted to be the king of Herod’s life. He wanted to give Herod and everyone else new life. A Spirit filled life. He didn’t come to be a ruler on this earth. He came because He had a bigger purpose, a reason why He came, to have a relationship with His people. Not to show us the way to Heaven, but to show us He IS the way to Heaven. The Jews were hoping He was the one to save them from Roman oppression. But Jesus came to save them from a bigger threat, eternal death. So how do we see the real meaning of Christmas? We see the bigger picture.
We acknowledge God’s call. (vv.19-23) Joseph did exactly what God (through the angel) told him to do. He just listened and obeyed. Herod was a bad dude. He murdered several of his own children and even his wife. But he was ruler for more than 30 years and built many cities. When he died in 4 BC, he made it so his kingdom would be divided into three parts. Archelaus is mentioned and he was as ruthless as his father. He started his reign by killing 3000 influential people. God didn’t want Joseph to bring his family where Archelaus was so they ended up in Galilee in a small town called Nazareth. By listening to God, Joseph was able to avoid pain, suffering and death – for him and his family. We listen to God’s Words now by reading the Bible, God’s road map to living the life He created you to live. And it explains what the real meaning of Christmas is. Yet for some reason, people prefer to follow legends and myths of St Nick or old cartoons and stories than what is really true. It’s all laid out in the Bible. Jesus was clear who He was. He was God on earth, 100% God and yet 100% man. It’s hard to imagine and harder to comprehend but that little baby in the manger was God. He is the One and only – never to be imitated, repeated or duplicated God in human flesh. Jesus was God among us walking on this earth. He is the One the prophets talked about thousands of years earlier. Jesus was God on earth. He came to have a relationship with us. He came to give us the best Christmas present ever – an eternal relationship with Him. But it’s not good enough just to believe that. We need to receive this free gift. As the Bible says, we need to acknowledge that we are not perfect and our sins cut us off from God. Because we are not perfect, we cannot get into heaven…by ourselves. That’s why Jesus came, to be the bridge between sinful man and perfect God. God calls you to Him. Will you ignore Him or acknowledge His call? It’s up to you to personally make the decision to accept Jesus into your life.
We can see the real meaning of Christmas by embracing Jesus. (v.23) The fact that Jesus was raised in Nazareth was a big deal. It fulfilled what was said through the prophets. But it doesn’t say anywhere in the OT that Jesus would be born in Nazareth. So where does that come from? Nazareth was a small town in Southern Galilee. Many of the trade routes went near there and the people in this town would often have interactions with travelers so the world news would get to them quickly. So the people of Nazareth had an aura of independence to them that other Jews despised. Nazareth became synonymous with despisement. In the Old Testament, it says Jesus will be despised by those around Him. Not just because He’s from Nazareth but despised because all the sin of the world was placed on Him when He was on the cross. Jesus knowingly and willingly took on all the sins of the world. He became sin to take sin away from us. Can you grasp that? God – Creator of the universe came to die for you. Do you know what it’s like to have someone die in your place? You have the opportunity to embrace the One who saved you and offers you eternal life. It’s mind blowing to know that God, the creator of the universe came to Earth to have a personal relationship with you! Wherever you are in this stage of life – Jesus wants you to embrace Him, for you to give your whole heart and your attention and see what He can turn your life into.
Our flesh, the world, and Satan all try to prevent us from seeing what Christmas really is. We are distracted by so many things but let’s be clear – Jesus wants to save you. He wants to show you a better way of living. He wants to give you eternal life. Jesus is God and He is in control of everything! There’s no coincidence you are here on this Earth. God has a plan and a special purpose for you. Nothing can prevent what God wants to do to and through you.
Nothing could stop the ascension of Jesus. Herod tried to kill Him when He was still in the crib but he couldn’t stop Jesus. The Pharisees tried to trick and trap him but they couldn’t stop Jesus. Judas betrayed Him but he couldn’t stop Jesus. The Romans arrested and crucified Him but they couldn’t stop Jesus. The crown of thorns pierced his head and made Him bleed but they couldn’t stop Jesus. The nails were driven through His wrists and a spear was thrust into His side but they could not stop Jesus! Jesus lost His life on the cross. But even that could not stop Jesus! Because three days later, He rose from the dead. And if you make the decision to accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you too will not have to worry about death. Sure, one day our time on earth will end. But with Jesus you will live forever in heaven. If you are born once, you die twice (physical and spiritual). If you are born twice, you die once (physical).
It’s up to you. It’s a decision only you can make. Make this Christmas a truly special Christmas, one where you finally acknowledge the true meaning of Christmas. Jesus is waiting for you to receive the greatest gift possible: A relationship with Him and eternal life in Heaven.