Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Bible Bits

At Easter I posted the series of posts I did on Tiny Bible Bits leading up to Easter on the seven sayings of Jesus on the cross.

These are the musings I've written over the last few weeks leading up to Christmas. Enjoy...

Matthew 1:1, 3, 5, 6, 16 – This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:… Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,… Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,… David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,… and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.

Matthew 1 paints the rich tapestry from which the Saviour of the entire world would come.

Tamar - Slept with her Father-in-law.
Rahab – Prostitute.
Ruth - Foreigner
Uriah’s wife - Adulteress
Mary - Virgin
All of them women.

In the eyes of first century Jews Jesus had some skeletons hiding within his genealogy.

Yet Matthew chose to include them at the start of his gospel.

These women remind us that God includes those who might be viewed as undesirable.
These women remind us that God can, and does, use those from all walks of life.

Matthew 1:21-22 – “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet:

I read last week that candy canes are hard to represent the firmness of God’s promises.

Whether or not this is factual for a candy cane is debatable (the Internet told me therefore it MUST be true!), but Matthew’s account of the Christmas story reminds us that it's true for God’s plan of salvation.

The where, when, who, why and how of Jesus’ birth were no accident. They were all part of what God started many years prior.

Do you just read the same familiar parts of the bible?

Get to know the Old Testament. The whole Old Testament. Read the prophets. Learn about their background and how they fit into the New Testament.

Within their pages are fascinating accounts of God revealing who He is, what He was doing at the time and what He plans to do in the future.

As you delve into these, often neglected, portions of the bible you will gain a wider understanding of the story God has unveiled, is still weaving and is still to unfold.

Matthew 2:3-5 – When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

For the second Tiny Bible Bit in a row the passage has ended with a reference to a Messianic Old Testament prophecy.

In light of their current political situation, the majority of first-century Jews would have been familiar with these prophecies.

And yet many of then missed the signs.

Do we do a similar thing to the chief priests and teachers of the law?

Are we aware of what the bible says but blind to what God is actually doing in the world?

Ask God to open your eyes to the places where He is involved.
If those in Jerusalem had prayed a similar prayer then they may have gone with the Magi to see the promised New-born King.

Matthew 2:11,16 – On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh… When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.

Nativity scenes are everywhere.
And they’re all, without exception, wrong.

The mistakes they hold indicate that we’re more familiar with the Christmas story than we actually are.

We think we can fill in the following gaps…
Mary rode a ____ to Bethlehem. There were _____ wise men. The magi visited Jesus _________.

Mary POSSIBLY rode a donkey. The gospels do not say.
There COULD have been three wise men. All we’re told is the number of gifts they brought along.
The magi came to a house anywhere up to two years after the birth of Jesus (thus the order of Herod to murder all boys under two).

Take some time out to actually read the Christmas accounts in Matthew and Luke.

You might be surprised what is, and is not, included.

Turns out the Little Drummer Boy doesn't make an appearance…

Luke 2:10-11 – But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”

Good news…
Great joy…
For all people.

This is the message of Christmas.

Luke 2:16-18, 20 – So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them… The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

When the shepherds personally encountered the Christmas story they spread the word.

The told others what God had revealed to them.
They told others how God had entered into human history.
They told others how they had met Jesus.

This is the appropriate response to encountering Jesus.

Who are you going to tell about your experience of meeting Jesus this Christmas?

John 1:14 – The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

God did not charge in with an army.
Jesus did not invade with power.
He did not come clothed in wealth and prestige.

When God came into the world, He came in humility.
He came to display grace and truth to a world in need of both.

As another Christmas slips by, remember the impact of the incarnation.

Remember the effect of God taking on flesh and dwelling amongst His creation.
The Lord of all entered the world in order to show a life dedicated to the Kingdom of God, bringing together Creator/creation and allowing us to call out to a God who has intimate knowledge of our sufferings and temptations.

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