I think that for many, the message of the baby Jesus in the manger with the star in the sky and the shepherds bowing before Him is just another Christmas fable. I think some people know more about Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, and the Grinch who stole Christmas than they do about Jesus.
When we think of Christmas, we often simply think of it as the birth of Jesus. And it was. But we need to understand that it was as much of a departure as it was an arrival.
From our perspective on Earth, a child was born. But from God's perspective in heaven, a Son was given. Isaiah 9:6 says, "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
The Bible is clear in pointing out that Jesus Christ was and is God Himself. Jesus did not come into existence in Bethlehem. We say that He was born there and, in a sense, He was, because He took on a human body.
But Jesus says of Himself, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last" (Revelation 22:13). God has no beginning and no end. Jesus has always been.
Not only that, but He is the One who created all things. John 1:3 says, "All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made." When God became a man and was supernaturally conceived in the womb of Mary, this was a great miracle.
Philippians 2:5-8 sums it up beautifully:
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
Jesus was equal with God, yet He laid aside the privileges of deity and walked among us as a man.
By saying He laid aside the privileges of deity, I am not suggesting even for a moment that Jesus ceased to be God. But He did not utilize His considerable privileges as the Creator when He walked this earth.
In other words, when Jesus was hungry, He ate food like any other human being. Jesus experienced human weariness. He experienced the limitations of the human body voluntarily. He walked in our shoes. This was the Incarnation. God became a man, Immanuel.
Some people say they aren't sure they can believe in a virgin birth and that Jesus was really God. But you have to if you want to be a Christian. If you don't believe these foundational biblical truths, then you cannot be a Christian.
Talk show host Larry King was once asked if he could interview anyone across human history, whom would he choose. Without hesitation, he said, "I would want to interview Jesus Christ. I would want to ask Him one question, which would be: 'Are you indeed virgin-born?' The answer to that question would explain history."
And Larry King is right. It does.
Of course, we know the answer to that question is yes, Jesus was born of a virgin. If Jesus was not supernaturally conceived in the womb of Mary, then He was not God. If He was not God, then His death on the cross really meant nothing at all. Those who suggest the virgin birth is impossible are essentially denying what Scripture teaches.
Maybe you have always been a religious person. You have always tried to the best of your ability to live by a Christian worldview and ethic. But you have found yourself falling miserably short so often, never having the strength you need to do the right thing.
Being a Christian isn't just trying to follow the example of Jesus. Being a Christian is God with us. It is Christ in us, the hope of glory.
The condition for an enlightened mind is a surrendered heart. Surrender yourself to the Lord. As that classic carol "Joy to the World!" says, "Let every heart prepare Him room."
Have you made room in your heart for Jesus?
If you could go back and give your younger self some advice, what would it be? Pastor Greg Laurie has been giving that some thought. And Wednesday on A NEW BEGINNING, he offers some serious advice for the young, and young at heart.