Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com

Jesus and Christmas

Every year Christmas rolls around. It is a festival celebrated by billions of people around the world. It is a time chosen to celebrate the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ. The exact date and day of this marvelous event are uncertain, but December 25th was cemented in history by the Roman Emperor, Constantine, in A.D. 325. Several theories have been espoused to explain why this date was chosen, but the most central feature is that God entered into this messy world in the Person of Jesus Christ.

The intrusion of Christ into this world in human flesh marks the utmost critical and key time of world history. Its astonishing meaning can be wrapped up by one verse in the Christmas story written by Saint Luke. The vital verse reads, “for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). You and I can glean the marvelous importance by His titles: Savior, Christ, Lord. Let me explain.

The identity of Jesus Christ the Lord.

First, I need to explain that the Person in view is Jesus of Nazareth, son of Joseph and Mary. Matthew’s story of Christmas starts with this, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham…and to Jacob was born Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ” (Matthew 1:1, 16). Again, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows…And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

For more context, the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew (with a few exceptions), and the New Testament was written in Greek. Jesus is from the Greek, and is translated from the Hebrew “Jesua,” or Joshua. The name (title) means, “the Lord is salvation.” Now, we can take up the tremendous meanings of Jesus being Savior, Christ and Lord.

Jesus as our savior from the curse of sin.

The first title, Savior, refers to the first function of Jesus Christ’s coming: He is our Savior. The nuances of the word refer to saving, keeping, benefiting, and preserving. It is the function of Jesus being our Savior from sin.

Savior means to save or cure one from a grim peril such as a disease, or a ship being saved from being bashed upon sharp hazardous rock outcroppings. It implies that great danger is upon us, and we are rescued from the jagged jaws of death.

Indeed, we know from the clear pages of the Bible and by the casual observance of history that the world in its present stage is very dangerous, and at the end we are delivered over to a pitiful death. This is not a happy picture of our existence. The Bible says that all humans have sinned, and that our default status before Almighty God is one of disaster; we are ungodly and helpless sinners estranged from God and positioned as His enemies (Romans 5:6-11). You and I would like to ignore our fate of condemnation, but nevertheless it is true.

I am writing this shortly after a shocking and horrific slaughter by radical Islamic jihadists during the 2015 massacre in Paris. Sports fans were watching football; friends were quietly enjoying a pleasant evening dining out; others were involved in a rousing and raucous celebration at a rock music festival. Suddenly, suicide bombers set off their deadly missiles, bullets sprayed the crowds, and blood and panic filled the happy time. Some were saved, many died.

Such devastation in our physical world is horrific; however, it is much worse in the spiritual world. Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Later we are told, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).

My dear friend, we are desperately in need of a savior. We are on our own and unable to escape death and the judgment that follows. The great news is that in Jesus Christ we have someone who can save us, He wants to, He has promised that He can, and He has the power to save. His sacrifice upon the cross pays all the penalty for all time for all those who come to Him for salvation. By His resurrection from death He can give eternal life to those who by faith place their trust in Him. Oh, but this is more than great news!! This is phenomenal news!!

Before I go on to the next title, I want to focus on what we have to do to be saved. Actually, we can do nothing. The criteria is to believe in Christ. What does it mean to believe? We can believe that Christ existed, or that in an objective way He actually did die on the cross and come back from the dead. We can believe that He will heal us, feed us, and that He is coming back to this earth someday.

The problem is that this kind of belief will not save us. Saving faith (belief) is to personally cast our faith and trust upon the literal death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ to save us from the penalty of sin and gain eternal life. Salvation is a gift of God that we personally can only receive or accept as a pardon. Salvation is by faith alone through Christ alone. It is to enter into a new wonderful personal relationship with the living God. We become His beloved children.

Consider this illustration. Let’s say we are flying in a plane and suddenly the engines quit. We are headed for certain death.  However, someone hands a parachute to us and cries, “Here, put on this parachute before you jump from the crippled airplane!” You have three choices. One, you can say, “I don’t believe that is a parachute that can save me.” It is like saying that Christ cannot save you. Second, you can say, “Yes, I believe that is a parachute, but I don’t want it. I’ll take my chances and jump without it.” In the same way you are saying that you believe Christ exists, died on the cross and rose from the dead, but you are going to jump anyway and take your chances.

Third, you can say, “Yes, give me that parachute! I will put it on and trust it completely to allow me to float safely down to the earth!” It is the same with saving faith: we personally place all our trust in Christ to save us based on His work on Calvary.

Everyone is trusting something to save themselves. Some believe their good works, station in life, brilliance, success, baptism, church membership, or good morals with save them. Some cast their trust that there is no afterlife, so there is nothing worry about. Repent is a word used many times regarding how to be saved. However, repent (metanoeo) simply means to change our mind. It means to change from believing in whatever we are believing in for salvation over to believing that personal salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone.

Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door (of your heart) and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). Paul wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a results of works, that no one should boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9). Jesus is our Savior, will you receive the gracious gift He offers you? You will never regret it.

Jesus Christ the Messiah

The first function of Jesus was to remedy our horrible personal spiritual condition of sin. But there is more – much more! Jesus of Nazareth is The Messiah - a political savior, the second function started at Christmas. We see this fact in the title, “Christ.”

Christ means literally to anoint or to smear such as to smear oil on weapons or rubbing the body with grease or oil for healing. It also carries a legal and political meaning. Oil was poured over the head of a person to confer strength or majesty. It was a central part of the ceremony or ritual that bestowed upon and designated a person to a position of leadership and power such as a king.

The act would be similar to the swearing in of the president of the United States. The ceremony is witnessed by thousands, and the chief justice of the Supreme Court has the person place their hand on a Bible, raise their hand, and repeat the correct vows. Afterward, that person has been bestowed with the position, prestige and power to be the leader of the most powerful country on earth. That person becomes the Commander and Chief of the most powerful army in the world.

In a similar way, “Christ” is a title like, “President of the United States.” Jesus is the “Anointed One” of God. The Hebrew word that is equivalent to Christ is “Messiah.” John explains while describing the disciples joining Jesus, “He found first his own brother Simon, and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which translated means Christ)” (John 1:41). Why do we need a Messiah?

The political, economic, legal, and religious systems of this world are in a horrible disarray. Brutal and bloody wars have soaked the pages of our history books. Corruption, deception, misery, greed, thirst for power, revenge, and atrocities bring untold pain on millions. For example the Stalinist purges slaughtered at least 50 million people. It was the same in China under Mao.

According to the National WWII Museum at least 60 million people were killed in both military and civilian deaths. All my life (which started in 1939) the world has lived under the menacing threat of war. Humanity has created the arsenal to annihilate the entire world population by nuclear holocaust. But we are clueless on how to bring peace, or create life for that matter. As I write our silly leaders frantically pursue the bizarre fraud of global warming.

We hear about all sorts of “phobias” such as homophobia, Islamophobia, and such, but probably the greatest phobia is “Christophobia.” The Psalmist foresaw this centuries ago, “Why are the nations in an uproar, and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed: Let us tear their fetters apart, and cast away their cords from us!” (Psalm 2:1-3).

Of course their grandiose delusion is seen by God this way, “He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury” (Psalm 2:4, 5). Christ spoke of the world’s hatred of Christ and Christians this way while addressing His disciples, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you” (John 16:18).

This world frantically needs a savior, someone who can take the lead and bring peace, prosperity, judgment, justice and healing. Glory to God!! Help is on the way!! Jesus of Nazareth who is The Messiah will soon come and put an end to the suffering, wickedness and folly (cf. Revelation 19:11-11-16; Matthew24:29-31; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-12, etc.). The Messiah will soon be here – but in His own timing.

His creation and how He runs it is His gig, not ours. Pitiful little humanity cannot overrule the plans of God, nor can they bring peace and justice to this world. Jesus of Nazareth is The Christ, the only One, who will restore justice in His world. This is the second great function attached to the entrance into the world of the little Christ child on Christmas day. It is a day of great hope.

The Messiah will come to judge the world powers, deliver the nation of Israel from her enemies, restore her as a nation, and then as the King of Israel dominate the entire world through Israel. This is the great hope of the nation Israel. Matthew describes this event, “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before Him…Then the King will say to those…” (Matthew 25:31, 32, 34; cf. Psalm 2:7-12; Revelation 19:11-21; 21:24-27).

I have described the powerful impact of two of the titles Luke gave us: Savior, Christ, and Lord. As savior our sin problem is cured; as Christ our political and economic systems will operate smoothly. The question remains: can Christ actually accomplish this feat, and is He willing? The answer is, of course. It is explained in the title, “Lord.”

Jesus Christ the Lord.

Luke uses Kurios as the title to describe Jesus Christ. The title means having power and authority, being a master. Jesus claimed, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). John describes Him this way, “and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us, and released us from our sins by His blood…’I am the Alpha and the Omega’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’” (Revelation 1:5, 8). Wow! Now that is power and authority!!

About 200 years before Christ the Jews translated the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek, and named it the Septuagint. Another name the Bible used for God was “Theos.” The Hebrews translated the Hebrew Jehovah as Kurios. For example, in a dialogue between Moses and God it reads, “God (Theos) spoke further to Moses and said to him, ‘I am the Lord; (Kurios) (Genesis 6:2). Again we read, “Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God (Theos); and you shall know that I am the Lord (Kurios) your God (Theos).

My point is that Jesus, that little squirming baby boy looking for his mommy’s nipple for food, was none other than the God of the Old Testament. That little baby who even had to have someone change his diapers is the God who thought up the idea of the universe, planned it, created it, holds it together, established and maintains the laws of nature, and governs and guides the history of the universe to its predetermined purpose and end.

That little baby has power. He even grew up to die on a cross and rise from the dead, and break asunder the shackles of death that clamps its terrifying grip on the human race. That little baby exerted the willingness and power to deliver us from sin and grant us eternal life. He is Almighty God Himself!!

My good friend, when Christmas comes around on the calendar, remember that it is much more than Santa and reindeer, Christmas trees, presents we don’t need, and a day to stay away from work. The stores even banish the word Christmas from its advertisements. Nativity scenes are forbidden. Schools outlaw the mention of the Christ Child.  “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” is shoved aside for “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,” or “Jingle Bells.” There is a factual vicious war on Christmas and Jesus Christ Himself, but the campaign is a futile effort.

Nations come and go, people live and die, wars continue to plunder and destroy, false gods deceive, but our Lord God and Savior Jesus The Christ continues to rule, and His plan is on perfect course. That is something to celebrate about! He will be here soon, or we will go to Him. Either way, it makes Christmas a blessed event to rousingly celebrate our entrance into internal happiness in Christ.

Merry Christmas, my friend,

Dr. Newman

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