With the Christmas season in full swing, there is so much we desire to get done before Christmas day arrives. Looking back, there are many fond memories of how we would spend this very special holiday with our individual families. But now, with being married, the whole approaching season has had a different light. Now that we live together in a home of our own, deciding what kind of things we will do for Christmas together is a new (and exciting) experience. With it being our first Christmas as a married couple, we both desire to make this “first Christmas as ‘Mr. & Mrs.’” the best that it can be.
However, not wanting to be overcome by the rush and hustle that usually accompanies this time of year, there has been a desire to have a fresh view of what took place in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago. Being very familiar with the Christmas story, it didn’t seem like there was too much chance of receiving something fresh… but I was wrong. Last week, the Lord revealed a comparison that I had never seen before, and this comparison brought new light to what this season is supposed to be about, and it’s given a new and exciting avenue of focus for this wonderful time of year. This comparison follows the experience of two individuals: Jacob and Mary.
It might seem strange to go back to the book of Genesis when addressing the topic of Christmas. But there is comparison in the story of Jacob that is comparable to the experience of Mary, and this instance brought a deeper insight and longing to go beyond the historical facts that took place when Jesus was born.
As you probably well know, Jacob was the father of Joseph, who was sold by his brothers into slavery. But he later became a great ruler that ended up saving his family (as well as many, many others) from starvation. But before all that happened, Joseph had a dream; in that dream there were analogous events that took place that indicated he would be made a ruler and that his family would bow to him (see Genesis 37). When Joseph told this to his family, they were not impressed in the slightest (and understandably so). This even brought a rebuke from his father, Jacob. But even though the idea brought about Jacob’s rebuke, it doesn’t appear that Jacob simply dismissed the idea, like the others did. In Genesis 37, we see a very interesting detail mentioned –
“And his brethren envied him [Joseph]; but his father observed the saying.” – Genesis 37:11
While all of Joseph’s brothers were thinking “who does this guy think he is, where we should bow to him?” Jacob had another thing happen… he “observed the saying.” The word “observed” in the verse is the Hebrew word shamar, and means “to keep, or watch over” something, or “to guard” it. From a mental sense, it’s not something you let come into one ear and then out the other; it’s something you constantly think about, or ponder. In Jacob’s case, what was being pondered was a prophecy… although he did not know it at the time.
With this in mind, let’s go to the event of Jesus birth in Luke 2. It is here that we can see a strong comparison to what Jacob did in Genesis 37. When Mary gave birth to Jesus, and the shepherds came and saw Him, it says they then went and made know abroad the saying that was told to them concerning Him. Mary’s response to what they said may not seem all that important; but if we look at what they actually did say, her response is quite significant. What was it that the shepherds actually said? …what the angel told them. What did the angel tell them? We find the answer to this in verses 10 and 11 of Luke 2 –
“And 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.” – Luke 2:10:11
When the shepherds declared this, it seems Mary saw that there was a special significance in these words, and the Bible says that she “kept these things, and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). The Greek word for “kept” in this verse means “to preserve” or to “keep in mind.” Again, from a mental standpoint, it doesn’t mean to let a thought come into one ear, and then out the other. Rather, it indicates continuous contemplation or pondering. This is exactly what Jacob did about Josephs dream. But there is a deeper parallel between Jacob’s and Mary’s response than just pondering a prophecy. In Jacob’s case, it was a prophecy that his son would rule one day. In Mary’s case, it was also that her son would rule one day: Jesus would be Lord! In both cases, there was a foretelling of rulership. It’s been said that Joseph is a type of Christ, meaning that there are many events in Joseph’s experience that symbolize the experience of Jesus’ earthly life; and this prophecy falls perfectly in line with that symbolism.
When the Lord revealed this, He also spoke to what my focus should be when thinking about the nativity events. Just like Jacob and Mary, I’m to go beyond just hearing the events of God’s plan… I’m to keep them, pondering them inside, asking what the deeper meaning is of what is being said. So what is the deeper meaning of all that took place at Jesus’ birth, and what does that mean for me here and now? First, that He was willing to condescend to such a humiliating entry into the world is just mind-blowing. But why did He do it? It was not just to deliver us from the penalty of our sins. Jesus’ humble entry – and the life He lived thereafter – was to accomplish something far greater. His condescending to the lowest was ultimately to be exulted to the highest, where He would reign as Lord. And in that reign He would save us, not just from the penalty of our sins, but also from the oppressive power of sin… which carries out its tyrannical rule through natural man. Jesus’ exulted and overcoming position of authority allows for us to experience freedom from sin as He reigns within us, for where He reigns sin cannot abide.
So herein lies the Christmas contemplation… what does it mean for me to experience the Lordship of Jesus Christ in my life. He came to be Lord, and to the degree I receive His authority instead of my own stubborn will, to that same degree I will experience the freedom and life that HE IS! But what does it mean – in a here and now, practical sense – for Him to be Lord in every facet of my life? This is why He came, and this is what I am to observe, or ponder, or think about.
As you enjoy this Christmas holiday with family and friends, let’s go beyond hearing the historical events of Jesus’ birth, and ponder in our hearts what that means for our lives now. This, I believe, will bring a whole new experience, excitement, and joy to what this season is all about.
God bless you all, and Merry CHRISTmas!!!