Evansville Courier & Press – Printer-friendly story
Season’s focus should be on coming of Christ
By Todd Linn
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ this month offers Christians a special opportunity to bring a laser focus to the significance of Christmas.
While the Bible nowhere teaches to celebrate the birth of Christ, there is wisdom in contemplating the wonder and joy of Christ’s birth and the theological significance of God’s becoming man.
Some are quick to dismiss theological reflection as too hard or difficult. You may have heard about the schoolteacher after Christmas break who asked her students how they spent their vacations. One little boy said, “We visited my grandmother in Punxsutawney, Pa.”
His teacher said, “Well, that sounds like an excellent vocabulary word. Can you tell the class how you spell ‘Punxsutawney’?”
The little boy said, “You know, come to think of it, we went to Ohio.”
I love that little boy’s response! While I appreciate his avoiding the discipline of spelling, Christians should welcome the opportunity to think deeply about the person of Christ, how his deity and humanity are forever inextricably united. Such reflection results in our worshipping the Christ of Christmas in a deeper, more meaningful way.
There are a number of Old Testament prophecies that foretell the first coming of the Messiah, a Hebrew term for “Anointed One.” In Greek, the language of the New Testament, the term is translated as “Christ.” Many were looking forward to the coming of this Christ.
When King Herod asked the religious leaders of his day where the Christ was to be born, they told him the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, and they cited Micah 5:2 (Matt. 2:1-6). Micah is an Old Testament book that was completed some 700 years before Christ, and yet, remarkably, Micah foretells the specific location of the birth of Christ.
He writes in Micah 5:2: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”
This remarkable verse captures the essence of Christmas. A “little town of Bethlehem” is the place from which a special ruler will come, and not just any ruler, but a ruler “whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” Here is a clear reference to the eternal nature of the son of God, reminding us that the coming savior already has been in existence, having been with the heavenly father “from everlasting.”
Two thousand years ago, this eternal son of God took on flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Becoming man meant that he could die for our sins. Being divine meant that he could perfectly fulfill the law of the Old Testament and rise from the dead.
This is why we worship Christ at Christmas. He is the eternal son of God who has come to die on the cross for our sins (Mark 10:45). O, come let us adore him!
The Rev. Todd Linn is pastor of First Baptist Church in Henderson, Ky.
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