Luke 1. 26 - 35
In the late 1970’s Malcom Muggeridge, a leading light in the English literary world, commented on the momentous birth of Christ saying–and I paraphrase–that the God that made us mighty would make us mightier yet, was a prospect no longer visible,-- gone, all in his own lifetime. Do we share Muggeridge’s sentiments? Do we mourn over the state of the world? Christianity, however errant we believe it is in some respects, is responsible for the glorious music of Bach, Handel and Brahms, and in the art world for the works of Michelangelo, Bellini, El Greco, Blake and others. The great cathedrals of the past speak of a time that can’t be compared to the architecture of today. Because of Christianity’s dwindling influence we are left with no external standards to live by, no exalted goals to inspire the common man to sacred life; no inspiration to lift artists to heights no longer visited. Music is reduced to depicting and extolling human decadence–senseless, without form. Various expressions in modern art and architecture are debatable inventions. This is no accident. Moral and metaphysical aspects of human life have become chaotic and insubstantial. Christianity is an outworn creed.
With diminished influence and little theological significance , the celebration of Christmas has evolved into a secular event, made up of credos like, love for family and friends, pity for those less fortunate, feasts and presents–it ‘s more blessed to give than to receive–all under the aegis of the Golden Rule. But shouldn’t the birth of Christ be better seen as a fulfillment of prophecy? If Christianity is an outworn creed, does the demise of its impetus make it more coterminous with the end times–the times of the Gentiles? Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. (Luke 21. 24). Here Christ prophesied of these times, telling his listeners that these end times would precede his second coming. Some students of prophecy believe that those times are near, that the time of Gentile rule will finally end when Jerusalem returns to Jewish rule.
If you continue to the end of Luke 21 you will read of the approaching advent of Christ the Messiah. As was true 2,000 years ago, Peter’s words indicate the same is true today: There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts and saying, where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation. (2 Pet. 3. 3) At his birth Christ’s future role is described : He (Jesus) shall be great, and shall be called the son of the highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father, David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end (Luke 1. 32, 33). How pitiful it is that we’ve got to admit that the plain meaning of these scriptures have been misunderstood and ignored. If only the world would accept these things at face value. They don’t. Sad but true, there’s no necessity to accept these words when the essence of Christianity is displaced by the spurious doctrine of the immortality of the soul.
God’s word, found only in the Holy Bible, is a revelation of His plan for man and his destiny upon the earth. As truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with my glory (Num 14. 21). This particular statement is made in the face of the disobedient Israelites during the time of the exodus. Having arrived at the borders of the land of Canaan, the promised land-- they exhibited a total lack of faith , murmuring that they had been brought here to die, and making the incredible demand that they go back to Egypt, where they had lived in slavery. "Why don’t we return to Egypt?", they said. For this they all perished in the wilderness; only their children were permitted to enter the land with Joshua and Caleb. This is but one chapter in God’s story which had begun long before with His promises to Abraham: All the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it to thy seed forever. (Gen 13. 14 - 17).
To summarize a highly detailed chronicle, the kingdom of Israel ruled by David was a prototype, or model, of a kingdom and a king who would much later appear in God’s story of the earth, in the person of Christ Jesus. When we belong to Christ we are Abraham’s seed, as was Christ, and heirs according to the promise. David’s throne was in Jerusalem, the capitol city of the promised land. Now, some 2,000 years later, our hope lives on to have a place in that kingdom. This hope is ours when we are resurrected to a new life, as was Christ, our savior.
With all these things in mind, what is the real meaning of Christmas for us? Well, God is going to create a new kingdom on the earth, with Christ as king. The sad thing is that nobody seems to know about it–at least you don’t hear it spoken of. It appears true believers are few in number. Jesus asked if he would find faith on the earth on his return. This is something we should ponder. When you think about it how many people do you know who have kept themselves unspotted from the world? Do we continue to watch and wait? We strive to do these things, but this way of thinking misses the mark of the message of Christmas. We come closer to the bulls eye when we keep in the forefront of our minds that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son to save the world. Here is our reason to obey God and keep His commandments. The intrinsic message of Christmas is the love of God for every man. And the best way we can reciprocate is to evidence in our lives love and compassion for our fellow man. Can we make the appropriate response to God’s love? With Christ as our example, we can.