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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Christmas

There appears to be two Christmases: one is all sugar coating and no substance and the other is substantive with sugar on top. What we are referring to is that one manner in which Christmas is celebrated is to focus on Santa Claus, trees, reindeers and gifts (secular Christmas) and the other way is to view it as a day in which we focus on the birth of Jesus Christ. When we focus on Christ’s birth we can also enjoy the tinsel while if we focus on tinsel the holiday looses all meaning and eventually even the tinsel looses its luster. A symbol is never as significant as the substance of that which it is meant to represent.

The History
As its name implies, CHRISTmas (literally celebration, or Mass of Christ) is a date in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ (Christ being an English version of Kristos, which is a Greek version of Meshiah-Messiah, which is Hebrew for anointed). Notice that Christmas is not Jesus’ birth date but a day in which His birth is celebrated. Christianity believes that Jesus is God’s son, which contemporaneously (according to historical context) meant that this was a claim to equality with God. This is one of many reasons why Jesus is said to be God incarnate (literally in the flesh).
Christmas has been celebrated, in one form or another, since the very day of Jesus’ birth (circa 3-4 BC). This is because Mary and Joseph celebrated His birth, the shepherds celebrated His birth, and the angels celebrated His birth.

The Miracle
Christians and Muslims believe that Jesus was born to a virgin. This miraculous birth was foretold in the book of Genesis 3:15 where the seed of the woman is said to be a coming defeater of the serpent-satan (note that males have the seed and females the egg, while in this case the seed is of the woman, i.e., a child will be conceived without the involvement of a male). In the book of Isaiah 7:14 the prophecy is made more specific by referring to a sign from God, which will be that “the virgin shall be with child.” Isaiah 9:6 further applies names and titles to the child that are appropriate for God alone.

Moreover, Micah 5:2 foretells this child’s birth in Bethlehem. Jesus is known as being of Nazareth since that is where He lived but He was born in Bethlehem. It was also prophesied that the Messiah would be Jewish-a Hebrew from the Tribe of Judah, a descendant of Abraham, through Isaac, through Jacob, through Jesse, through David.

These are some of the many prophecies fulfilled by Jesus. Calculations conducted within the field of statistical probability demonstrate that as we compound prophecy upon prophecy the probability of one single person fulfilling all of their requirements becomes staggering. Yet, this is just what has occurred.

The Meaning
On the day of Jesus’ birth the following proclamations were made, “…behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord…Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!” (Luke 2:10-11, 14).

Christianity believes that Jesus chose to come to earth and live just as we do (yet, without sin) in order to fulfill the requirements of the Torah (Law of Moses or Old Testament Law). This would qualify Him to be what is known as a spotless lamb or Lamb of God (according to various metaphoric aspects of the Torah’s sacrificial rites as well as the Passover lamb as described in the book of Exodus). Therefore, Jesus chose to give His life so that those who relied on Him would be covered by His righteousness. This means that Christianity believes that all sins may be forgiven by believing that Jesus has paid the price for them. Thereafter, Christians are called to a life devoted to Jesus in thanksgiving for what He did for us. This is why Jesus’ birth is celebrated and why the majority of the world sets its calendars according to His birth.

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