When Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph had some idea who he was, but didn’t begin to grasp the full potential of the baby they were called to care for. Why did God choose for Jesus to be born as a baby? Why didn’t he simply appear as a full-grown man and begin to perform miraculous signs and wonders?
When speaking of the promised Messiah, the teachers of the day would have described someone who had the wisdom of Solomon, the charisma and authority of David, the leadership ability of Moses and the military genius of Joshua. But, instead, Jesus came into the world as a little baby, weak, needy, and humble. It was, and still is hard for us to fully understand how the second person of the trinity would enter the world in the form of an infant.
But Jesus was both fully God and fully man. The virgin birth is proof that he was divine, but being born as an infant shows that he was also human in every way (see Hebrews 4:15). If Jesus did not take on the form of a man, his sacrifice would have been unconvincing, because he would have been aloof and separated from the common man. If Jesus had been a mere man and not God, he would have died a martyr’s death. We can trust this same Jesus with our lives, because he knows what we are going through, he overcame the world and all its temptations.
In the first chapter of Matthew, we read that the angel told Joseph that the child born to Mary was to be called Jesus. The name Jesus is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew “Joshua”, which means, “God Saves”. The Hebrew name Joshua, and the Greek equivalent, Jesus, were common names at the time of Jesus’ birth and life. But after Jesus died and rose again, historians have found that the name Jesus was no longer used in the region. The simple reason is that the name Jesus took on a much more controversial meaning. For early Christians, they felt that no child was worthy to carry the same name as the messiah. For those who did not believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah, they did not want their child to be associated with such a controversial character.
But now the name of Jesus means so much more to us. We call on the name of Jesus for our salvation and we pray in the name of Jesus (see John 14:13-14 and Acts 4:12).
The Prophet Isaiah calls Jesus, “…Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace,” (Isaiah 9:6b)
If you are struggling to lead your family in the ways of the Lord, or you are struggling with a difficult situation in life and need wisdom to make tough decisions, remember that Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor.
If you are facing spiritual warfare and opposition in your Christian walk, and if you seem to be facing impossible mountains, always wrestling with temptation, remember that Jesus is the Mighty God.
If you simply need to cry in the loving embrace of One who understands when everyone seems to have abandoned you, remember that Jesus is the Everlasting Father. – He is the uncreated creator of all things.
If all around you seem to be facing personal conflict, and it seems that your world is in a state of perpetual conflict, remember that Jesus is the Prince of Peace
Jesus wasn’t simply a baby born with potential, he is the one who was born so that every child born could have unlimited potential. A personal relationship with Jesus begins the unleashing of that potential (see Acts 4:12).
This time of the year many people who don’t even know Jesus, are celebrating Christmas. Sadly, many people who attend churches every Sunday, may believe in the existence of the historical person of Jesus, but that is not enough (see James 2:19). James wrote that belief in God is not enough unless it is accompanied by a life of faith and action.
Merely giving mental agreement to the virgin birth, even believing that he came to be a sacrifice for our sins is not enough. Someone who is truly saved is someone who takes the truth of the Gospel, believes it and then acts accordingly. The Gospel message must change our lives, as we make Jesus lord of our lives. Belief doesn’t change lives, lordship does.
Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born again in John 3:3. The term Jesus used, “Born again”, is better translated, “Born from above”.
So, what does it mean to be born from above? We say; “I was saved”, “I became a Christian”, “I decided to follow Christ”, and other phrases. For many people what this translates to is a decision to raise your hand in a meeting or walk down the aisle for prayer. But the truth is that there are many people who claim to be Christians, who show no evidence of a transformed life, they show no evidence of being born from above.
Jesus made it clear that to follow him is not a simple decision to raise your hand or saying a prayer; to follow Jesus means to die to your old self, to take on a new name, to completely give everything you have to God.
When we are born again, we take on the name of Jesus, we become so closely identified with him, that we are his ambassadors, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:20.
As we are born again, the Holy Spirit works in our lives to produce faith and change the way in which we live our lives. We grow in a Biblical worldview, seeing everything through a different lens with an eternal perspective.
In Isaiah 9:7, the prophet speaks of a time yet to come. The final outworking of this prophesy is not fully realized, and we wait for the day when Justice and righteousness will be established and continue forever.
The first coming of Jesus was a mission of humility and sacrifice where he came to deal with the problem of sin and conquer death. But the next time Jesus comes, he will come on a mission of triumph and justice. Only those who know Jesus Christ as Lord and savior will celebrate with him when he comes again.
Can you say today that you will be part of that celebration?