Monday, December 14, 2020

Biblical Narrative of Christmas

 A brief look: 

One of the things that makes the Biblical Narrative of Christmas so special that it includes:

1)  Messianic Expectations - promised deliverer of Israel from Rome,  restorer of Israel back to the time of David.  These expectations extremely high when Christ did come.

2)  Angels appearing - these were not just dreams but appearances
      to Joseph - Matt. 1:20-21 - Divine, miraculous Savior
      to Mary - Luke 1:31-33 - will reign forever
      to Shepherds - Luke 2:9-14 - (not to priests, courts!)

3)  Visit of the Magi - Matt. 2:1-2 - as much as 2 years later, mystical as well as scholarly

Coupled with
4) Fulfilled prophecy
- Isa. 7:14, Matt. 2:6 (from prophet Micah)

So.... what started as a largely overlooked (unknown) local event ... has become a 

(A)  World-Wide Celebration!!

Some statistics just for the US.  (averaging out Pew Research and Gallup Polls)

96% of Americans celebrate Christmas
81% of Non-Christian Americans celebrate Christmas!!

88% of households put up a Christmas tree
90% buy gifts and gather with friends and family Christmas day or Christmas Eve, during the season

54% attend religious services (Christmas day, Christmas eve?)

65% display decorations with a religious meaning

73% claim to believe in the Virgin Birth (which = in essence the Christmas Story)

78% of American adults say they take time at Christmas to "reflect" on the Birth of Christ

(B)  the Universal measure of time - example:  BC/AD  BC = before Christ  AD = Anno Domini Latin for the year of our Lord.
Now are trying to establish BCE - CE   BCE = Before the Common Era  and CE = Common Era.
But, common era = birth of Christ!

Yet this only = a part of the story.  Four events give us the true picture:

His Birth
His Life (ministry as an adult)
His Death
His Resurrection

With His Birth comes wonder (awe)

With His Life (and ministry) come Knowledge (understanding) of who He is, what He's done, why it's necessary - John 1:18

thru His death come access - John 14:6

in Resurrection we gain Confidence (certainty, faith) - ("all authority is given Me...")

See how they are all necessary and how they complement one another...

What would the wonder of birth be without His Life and Ministry
answer:  Forgotten!  (or mythical bedtime story)

What would His imparted Knowledge be without His death?  (cross) -
answer:  we'd be aware of our fate!! doomed without hope!

What would access be without the Resurrection
answer:  uncertainty ... we couldn't be sure He was right!! (example: the state of the disciples after the cross, before the Resurrection!)

Point:   See how these 4 events work together to establish the Christian Hope!!!

All together = Christian Hope!

The Christmas story = wondrous thing!!  But.... you want your HOPE to be based on more than just that narrative!!!

3 types of HOPE  (concerning the afterlife)

#1.  NO HOPE (after death - nothing) - example:  atheist (Christmas story - just a story)

#2.  HEART HOPE ... based on...
      A.)  inherent knowledge (Eccles. 3:11)
      B)  personal desire  (longing) we long for our life not to end for nothing
and, maybe  C.)  Select portions of Scripture (example = Christmas story!)
This view ... Embraces the pleasant  (God's love)
               ....Rejects the offensive  (sin, judgment)
Therefore is generally optimistic, but = shallow, incomplete, NOT based on Scripture

#3)  CHRISTIAN HOPE which...
          A)  recognizes inherent knowledge
          B)  Admits personal desire (heart longing, sentiment)
BUT  C)  Builds on the full Revelation
And   D) Recognizes the Revelation as the final authority

POINT:  The Christmas story = a Wondrous thing!!
AND = a key element in the establishment of Christian Hope!

But don't build your hope on that alone!  Be sure to combine all 4 components!!  ie:
His Birth, His Life, His Death, His Resurrection - complement each other and = a solid Hope!!

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