Greetings in the name of the father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
About 2700 years ago, Prophet Isaiah prophesized the birth of Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Savior, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace, whom we all need more than ever.
It was about 2000 years ago in Judea. Mary was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, Angel Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”
Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.”
Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.
Then she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, to whom Mary was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.’” (Matthew 1:23)
When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her Son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus. Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth.
Then the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. The Israelites were under Roman occupation. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. King David was born and grew up in Bethlehem when he was a just boy who tendered sheep. It is not like Jerusalem, but a humble place where King David lived as a humble shepherd.
Mary was now expecting a child. Per the decree, David and Mary traveled to Bethlehem from the village of Nazareth in Galilee, where Joseph’s family lived. The journey takes four or five days as Nazareth is 65 miles / 105 km north of Jerusalem (in a straight line), while Bethlehem is a hilltop town situated on a ridge near the edge of the Judaean desert, 5 miles / 8 km south of Jerusalem.
It was late in the day when David and Mary arrived in Bethlehem. They could not find a place to stay that night. They checked all Inns in the town, but no room was available. Thus, they decided to stay in a stable where animals sleep. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. Mary gave birth to her firstborn Son, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. She wrapped Him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger.
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them.
“Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10b-12)
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” (Luke 2:14)
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem to see King Herod, who governed the land of Judea, and asked,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:2)
King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. The people in Jerusalem had a good life under King Herod, although they were under the Romans. Thus, they wanted King Herod to be their king as long as they lived in Jerusalem and did not want a new king.
King Herod called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked,
“Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”
“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:
‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah,
are not least among the ruling cities of Judah,
for a ruler will come from you
who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’” (Matthew 2:4b-5)
Then King Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!” King Herod’s goal was to find and kill the newborn baby. For him, there should be no other king except him.
After this interview, the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with great joy!
They patiently watched the sky for countless years because they searched for the sign of fulfillment of the prophecy of the birth of the Messiah. And they never neglected any nights and diligently looked for the sign. Finally, they found the star and followed the star to Jerusalem, where they learned the place of the birth of Messiah from King Herod. King Herod was in fear of the birth of a new king along with his officials and the people comfortably living in Jerusalem, but the wise men were in great joy. They were about to see the fulfillment of the prophecy, which had been waiting for a long. They knew the prophecy was real, and their journey was about to be over.
They left Herod’s palace. The palace was filled with the best available in Judea at that time. Even during the night, Herod’s palace was as bright as daytime, and everything was plenty, with delicious food and excellent music. On the contrary, the outside was dark, and the weather was cold, but the wise men’s heart was even brighter than before because of their excitement about meeting Messiah, the new King. As they headed for Bethlehem, the star appeared again and guided their way. Then they followed the star through the Judean desert to Bethlehem, about 5 miles / 8 km south of Jerusalem. Then the star stopped. They looked around and found one stable that the shepherd also visited.
They entered the stable and saw the child with his mother, Mary. They gave thanks to God because they saw Messiah, the newborn King for whom they had waited countlessly many years. Some night was too cold to watch the sign in the night sky. Some nights clouds came and obscured the sky. Some night was rainy and even snowy. Even so, they had never given up the hope of seeing the sign of the birth of Messiah, a newborn king. Many generations were before them, but none could see the newborn king, the Messiah, but they saw the sign, followed the sign, came to the place of the birth of Messiah, and entered the place. Finally, they were able to see the newborn King, the Messiah. They could not believe what was happening, but it was real. Yes, they saw the Messiah. What a privilege it was to see the Messiah! It was the most blessed day for their entire lives.
One by one, the three wise men approached the newborn King, opened the treasure chests prepared for the newborn King, and presented each of the gifts. Tears of joy rolled down their faces as they came close to the newborn King, the Messiah. They gave thanks to God. Then they bowed down and worshiped Him.
The first Wiseman presented gold, the most precious metal and valued throughout human history. Certainly, gold is the king of all metals, symbolizing the newborn baby’s kingship. Jesus was and is the King of the Jews and the rest. Jesus Christ was born as a newborn baby on the first Christ’s day in the stable, but He was the King. He is the King, and He will be the King forever. He will also come again as the King of kings, the Lord of lords, to restore the world as God initially created and govern it forever as the true and forever King.
He was given authority, honor, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed. (Daniel 7:14)
The second Wiseman gave frankincense, which is an expensive fragrance or perfume made from trees in India and Arabia. It was used in religious and spiritual rituals for thousands of years, and frankincense symbolizes holiness and righteousness. Who can be holy and righteous except God? That is, frankincense represents Jesus Christ as the true God. Thus, they knelt before God. It was the moment that God came down to the world as a human being to save the world by bringing true light.
I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark. (John 12:46)
The third Wiseman presented myrrh, which was commonly used as anointing oil.
Myrrh was also a product of Arabia and was obtained from a tree in the same manner as frankincense. It was a spice and was used in embalming. It was also sometimes mingled with wine to form an article of drink. Such a drink was given to our Savior when He was about to be crucified as a stupefying potion. Matthew 27:34 refers to it as “gall.” Myrrh symbolizes bitterness, suffering, and affliction. The baby Jesus would grow to suffer greatly as a man and would pay the ultimate price when He gave His life on the cross for all who believed in Him.
The soldiers gave him wine mixed with bitter gall, but when he had tasted it, he refused to drink it. (Matthew 27:34)
In short, the newborn baby Jesus is the King, the God, and the love of God who sacrificed Himself to save us from the wage of our sins, which is death, not an ordinary death, but an eternal death by being separated from God, Our Eternal and Ever-Loving God.
Then what’s the true meaning of Christmas?
Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, was born on the first Christmas day about 2000 years ago, as prophesied by Prophet Isaiah about 2700 years ago. It was God’s love toward humanity, His special creation. Through the birth of Jesus Christ, God gave eternal life to all by forgiving all sins of humanity on the cross, where Jesus Christ was crucified as the ultimate sacrifice for all. At the cross, He atoned all our sins—and not only past, present and even future sins. In Him, we are freed, which is a true blessing given to all, on Christmas day, who believe Jesus Christ, the newborn King, as Savior.
He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world. (1 John 2:2)
Then why not praise and celebrate the birth of baby Jesus Christ today? Let’s praise God and His Son, Jesus Christ, with all our hearts, mind, and soul. Also, live out our lives worthy of praise to God by loving God and loving others as God loved us and gave up His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, for us.
Merry Christmas to all! Pray for God’s grace and peace to you, your family, your relatives, your friends, those who don’t like you, and even your enemies on this blessed Christmas and this advent season!
We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. (1 John 4:16)