John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." Christmas is the proof of God's great love for us, for He gave His best to us, so that we should not perish in sin and death but have everlasting life. Christmas is about God's love. We respond by believing, receiving and rejoicing in God’s love-gift of Jesus and by living in love towards God and people. The gift of eternal life is for ‘whosoever’ wants it, but not all receive this gift of love, for it is wrapped up in a Person (JESUS). The gift is Jesus Himself and in Him is all true life, so when we receive (believe in) Him we receive abundant, eternal life (1John 5:11,12).
Each person must receive or reject Christ for himself: "He came unto his own and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name" (John 1:11,12).
What are the marks of the true believers? The believers in the Christmas story are people of every kind: Jew and Gentile, lowly and powerful, uneducated and wise, poor and rich, outcasts and those who advise kings. We see (1) A devout young Jewish girl (Mary) (2) Shepherds (3) Wise-Men. But they all found and received JESUS as their Lord and Saviour.
1. A humble young girl (Luke 1). "Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He 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" (v31-33).
"Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, ‘The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (v34,35).
"Mary said, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word" (v38). The first mark of believers is their HUMBLE FAITH that receives JESUS (salvation) into their heart, and humbly accepts God's purpose for their life. They know they cannot do it in their own strength, but let they God do it in them by receiving His Word and trusting Spirit to work in them. When God draws close to speak, believers hear and obey, saying like Mary: "be it unto me according to your word."
2. The Witnessing Shepherds (Luke2)
These were outcast Jews, on the bottom rung of society but God was interested in them also. "The angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord... Glory to God in the highest (PRAISE), and on earth peace (message of) good will toward men (WITNESS)" (v10,11,14 ).
They show the second mark of believers. Their tongues were loosed in praise to God and witness to men, as the angels had told them: (1) give glory to God and (2) give the good-news of peace to men. “They came with haste, and found Mary, Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger and when they had seen, (2) they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child... And the shepherds returned, (1) glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had: heard and seen, as it was told unto them (to give glory to God in v14)" (v16,17,20). They are our example in faith. They heard the Good-News and saw (had a personal revelation and encounter with) Jesus, and in response they praised God and spread the good-news to others. They heard, saw, witnessed and praised.
3. The Worshipping Wise-Men. In total contrast to the Shepherds, these were rich powerful, educated Gentiles. They were truly wise-men and examples of true believers.
1. THEY SEEK HIM (WISE MEN STILL SEEK HIM!).
They were busy VIP’s but they made time to be seekers of God. They had studied to know about God's Messiah in the scriptures (which they knew from Daniel) and also they looked for the signs of His Coming in the stars. The star of Bethlehem was supernatural - a manifestation of the glory of God. Some come to God through a supernatural encounter (like the shepherds), while others (like the Magi), seek in the God’s Word and World, the bright shining stars of God's work. Against the darkness of the world and human history, they see the glorious stars of God's intervention which lead them to JESUS. The star led them and they followed step by step and God still leads the wise this way today. The Word of God is full of shining stars pointing the way for us.
2. THEY SEE HIM: "When they were come into the house, they SAW the young child with Mary his mother." When we truly seek God and His will, we will find Him. We will come and SEE (have a personal revelation of) Jesus for ourselves!
3. THEY WORSHIP HIM: They "fell down and worshipped him, and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, frankincense and myrrh."
This was dramatic because of who they were, perhaps 30 King-makers who had made all Jerusalem afraid by their arrival. These were very important men, yet they fell down before Jesus to worship Him, acknowledging that this was not just a King but the King of Kings, the promised God-man Messiah! When they found Him, they worshipped and gave their best gifts - which showed they knew who He was and what He would do.
(1) GOLD = DIVINE NATURE - signifies this is God become a man.
(2) FRANKINCENCE signifies he would live a holy and obedient life offered up to God.
(3) MYRRH was used in embalming the dead, revealed that He was born to die for us
With this revelation of who Jesus is and what He did for us, we like the wise-men should worship Him in laying our whole life down for Him, surrendering to His Lordship.
*Dear Father God, we thank you for sending your only son Jesus Christ. Thank you for giving him to us for our salvation. Help us to be like Mary, who HUMBLY accepted your purpose by saying: 'Let it be to me according to your word.' Help us to be like the shepherds who when they had found Jesus, went out and told everybody about him. Help us to be like the wise-men who sought him, found him and worshipped him with their best gifts. Thank you Jesus for giving your life for us, by dying on the cross for our sins and for rising again from the dead, to give us Eternal Life. AMEN.