Introduction – Beautifully familiar
The Christmas story (taken for today’s lesson from Matthew 1:1 -25) is the most familiar account in all of the Bible. Nevertheless, we must not let its familiarity distract us from its meaning.
In fact, the Bible tells us to “continue” in the things which we have learned, to “hold fast” the profession of our faith, to “study” to show ourselves approved and to “diligently” teach our children about God and His word. (2 Tim. 3:14, Heb. 10:23, 2 Tim. 2:15, Deut. 6:7)
It is important, and no less refreshing and satisfying to our souls, to frequently reflect on, remember and read the Christmas story.“The Christmas story is filled with an abundance of riches and blessings for mankind.”
While it truly is the “greatest story ever told,” and while Jesus is the real “reason for the season,” the Christmas story is about so much more.
When we take the time to slowly read it, what was once overly familiar becomes beautifully familiar.
The Christmas story is filled with an abundance of riches and blessings for mankind.
To follow are 5 specific blessings that lie at the heart of the Christmas story.
1 – The blessing of God’s eternal plan
We exist on a spectrum that is time-bound. God created time, but He is eternal and exists outside of time. (Gen. 1:5, Jn. 1:1)
In fact, He sees all of time all at once as He exists in eternity past, present and future.
Because of this, nothing happens in scripture apart from God’s eternal plan. The world’s history is part of His story.“Christmas is eternally significant, it is part of God’s eternal plan of redemption.”
Specifically, Jesus’ birth fulfilled God’s promise back in Genesis that He would send a Savior to overcome sin and death. (Gen. 3:15)
This was a result of God the Father and God the Son’s plan in eternity past to redeem mankind. (1 Pet. 1:20)
Christmas is eternally significant, it is part of God’s eternal plan of redemption.
Nearly 4,000 years after man’s sin ruined creation, God fulfilled the promise of His redemption plan through Jesus’ birth, that “through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” (Heb. 2:14)
Christ is indeed the Author and Finisher of our faith, and His story to save us is an eternal one. (Heb. 12:2)
God is in control, that is a blessing we can truly rest in.
2 – The Blessing of God’s providential care
Matthew begins his Christmas discourse with a 42 generation long genealogy. (Matt. 1:17)
He wrote to a Jewish audience, and was well versed in the Law and books of Moses. As a result his genealogy goes all the way back to Genesis.
A prime example of Matthew’s Old Testament knowledge can be seen in the structural comparison between Matthew 1:1 and Genesis 5:1.
Ultimately, Matthew’s genealogy is the end of the genealogy that began back in Genesis.
If you pay careful attention to the genealogy, you will notice such scriptural luminaries as Abraham, David, Ruth, Solomon and others, underscoring that Mary and Joseph were clearly descents of David.
Matthew did all of this to emphasize that Jesus was the final Messianic King the Israelites had been waiting for.
Much of the Old Testament can be described as “God comes through.” He came through for Israel and His people every time.
Over time, the more someone keeps their word, the more they are trusted because they are consistent.
While humans are merely consistently inconsistent at best, God, on the other hand, is perfectly consistent.
God is so consistent that He never gives us any reason not to trust Him. His word is true from the very beginning and it endures forever. (Ps. 119:160)
Christmas is the final result God’s preservation of Jesus’ lineage over thousands of years despite Satan’s constant attempts throughout scripture to end Jesus’ family tree.
In fact, at one point only Joash was left in Jesus’ line. (2 Kings 11) And yet, God still preserved Jesus’ lineage.
Jesus’ birth is another example of where God has come through for us, just as He always has and always will do.
God always acts in light of His providence, which is His control of circumstances so that His will prevails and His purposes are fulfilled.
He has always cared for His only begotten Son, and in that He has always cared for us. God’s providential care is a blessing that is signified in Jesus’ birth.
3 – The blessing of our Heavenly King
Matthew was intentional and careful in verses 18-25, to show that Jesus was divine.
Notice, Joseph is listed as the husband of Mary, and not the father of Jesus. (Matt. 1:16)
We also see that Jesus’ mother Mary was “espoused to Joseph, before they came together,” and “she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” (Matt. 1:18)
Joseph and Mary did not conceive this child, it was the Holy Ghost that did. Jesus was, and is, divine.“Jesus needed to be divine so He could be our eternal King, and also so He could remain sinless while on earth.”
Matthew reinforces Jesus’ divinity further by giving us an account of the angel of the Lord’s appearing Joseph, who told Joseph that the child was of God alone. (Matt. 1:20)
Thus Jesus was born our heavenly King. This however, was contrary to what many had expected.
The Jews awaited the Messiah for hundreds of years between the testaments.
When Jesus was born, they expected Him to be an earthly king who would lead His people to set up His kingdom on earth right then and there.
But this was not to be so. Jesus had much bigger plans in mind, and we are all the better for it.
Jesus needed to be divine so He could be our eternal king, and also so He could remain sinless while on earth.
Only this perfect King could overcome death and be a perfect sacrifice for our sins. We are greatly blessed that Jesus is our Heavenly King.
4 – The blessing of “God with us.”
Yet Jesus was also a man. He was born of a woman. (Matt. 1:25) He was and is like us yet without sin. (Heb. 4:15) He was 100% God and 100% man.
This is an incredible blessing, for just as Isaiah prophesied, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Is. 7:14)
Emmanuel means “God with us.” God came to be with us and through salvation in Him we can be with Him here and forevermore. (Rom. 8:9, Jn. 17:24)
He fully knows us and empathizes with us in ways no one else can, all the more so because He took on the sins of the world; your sins and mine. (1 Jn. 2:2)
When we say that Jesus died for us, He literally took our place on the cross for us.
He “endured” the cross and “despised the shame” of it for us. (Heb. 12:2) He even felt our sins more acutely because He is pure and we are not.
In the end, we cannot even begin to comprehend how much God loves us. (1 Cor. 2:9)
What we can comprehend though, is that God is near and that He is with us. What a blessing!
5 – The blessing of our Savior
“Jesus” is the Greek form of Joshua and means “The Lord saves.” This is why Matthew says “thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:21)
Jesus’ fulfillment of His plan of salvation is the greatest blessing of the greatest story ever told. It is the hinge on which all of scripture turns.
Upon it the door to the Old Testament closed, and the door to the New Testament opened. The world’s calendar even revolves around it.“Jesus’ fulfillment of His plan of salvation is the greatest blessing of the greatest story ever told. It is the hinge on which all of scripture turns.”
On Christmas day a child was born. On the cross a divine, perfect and sinless man died for the sins of the world. (1 Jn. 2:2)
Jesus was born to die for sinners. He even told Matthew that fact after Matthew believed in Him. (Matt. 9:13)
The point is that He came, died and rose again. (1 Cor. 15:3-4) We do not follow “cunningly devised fables,” rather we know Who we worship. (2 Pet. 1:16, Jn. 4:22)
Jesus had to come to be our savior because we could not, and cannot, save ourselves. (Tit. 3:5) Salvation is all of grace, it is His gift to us. (Eph. 2:8-9)
This gift is eternal, for He is able to save us “to the uttermost.” (Heb. 7:25) That is He saves completely, forever and perfectly, all for us and His kingdom.
Have you accepted His gift of salvation through belief and repentance in Him? Have you trusted Him to be your savior? There is truly no greater blessing or gift than salvation.
Conclusion – Only the beginning
The Christmas story is the most famous story in the Bible. Yet today we learned why it is important to slow down, and not allow its familiarity to distract us from remembering its many precious truths.
We looked at five blessings that come from Jesus’ birth. From this we saw that Christmas was part of God’s eternal plan and an example of His providential care.
Next, we learned that Jesus came to us as a divine, and sinless heavenly King, who was also born a boy who became a man. He was and still is “God with us.”“God’s story does not end with Christmas. Christmas is only the beginning.”
Lastly, we learned about the greatest blessing of all. Jesus is our Savior. He was born, died and rose again. He overcame death to save us from our sins and bring us back to Him as only He could do.
Ultimately though, God’s story does not end with Christmas. Christmas is only the beginning.
If you have believed on Him, you will be with Him for all eternity, and that eternity begins in the here and now. (Jn. 11:26, 2 Cor. 5:8, 2 Cor. 5:17)
Oh what a joyous life we have in Jesus! May we all remember this Christmas that God “sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” (1 Jn. 4:9)