December 2016 Newsletter
But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. (Luke 1:30-32)
As we have again reached the last month of the year and the days are getting shorter and colder, people everywhere are looking forward to another Christmas. For most people in our society, this celebration is the highlight of the year, even though many no longer associate this date with the birth of Jesus. Families get together, homes are decorated, special foods are prepared, and gifts are exchanged. The anticipation of this season has long been evident with Christmas goodies, decorations, and jumpers appearing on the shelves of our shops.
At the time of Jesus’ birth, there too was a sense of acute anticipation among the people of Israel. However they were not waiting for a particular date to arrive; they were waiting for a person – the Messiah – not knowing when exactly He would come. Life was difficult under the oppressive rule of the Roman Empire and the Jewish people were hoping that the promised Saviour of Israel would come soon to deliver them from their oppressors and set up His kingdom of righteousness and peace. But when would this time be?
Then suddenly something extraordinary happens: in a small town in Galilee, an angel appears to a young woman called Mary and announces to her that she will conceive a child of the Holy Spirit. She is to call Him Jesus (Salvation/Deliverance), He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David.
Mary immediately understands what this announcement means – the promised Messiah is coming, and she is to give birth to Him! Yet how can this be? The angel explains, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)
As we approach Christmas, let us remember the true meaning of this festivity. Let us celebrate the coming of the King and His rule. He came to deliver us from the oppression of sin and death. He came to establish His kingdom in our midst and make us, who believe in Him, its citizens. We who were spiritually dead in our transgressions (Ephesians 2:1&5) have been made alive through Hios sacrificial death and His resurrection. Let us therefore live our lives in His power and to His glory. Let us tell others about His love from them and His offer of salvation to them.
One day this age will be over with all its festivities. Therefore, as believers in Jesus Christ, let us not just look forward to another date in the calendar, but let us anticipate the appearance of the One who said, “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.” (Matthew 16:27) Jesus will return, this time to judge the world in righteousness. He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:28) Are you anticipating His coming?