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One of the most famous Christmas stories in the English language is “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. It tells of a man, Ebenezer Scrooge, who was very stingy with his money, and who hated Christmas. But in the story he is visited by three “spirits” in a dream: the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, who reveal to him how mean and stingy he has been toward other people. Following the dreams he promises to live differently. The book closes by saying that afterwards “it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well.”

How do you celebrate Christmas? Have you celebrated it at all? What is Christmas really all about?
Our scripture passages for today reveal the true origin and meaning of Christmas, and show us the way that we should respond to it.

Bible Reading

Luke 2:1-10
One of the important lessons we learn from the Luke 2 passage is that Jesus Christ was born into this world in a real place and time in history. He was a real, “flesh and blood” man. He is not a
“myth” or “fable.” He was born in the days of the Roman Empire, a real civilization; following a decree which went out from Caesar Augustus, a real Roman ruler whom we know much of; at a historical time when Quirinius was the governor of Syria.  Thus in a real time, in a real place, with real historical people, Jesus Christ was really born. He is not just a “myth” or “legend.” And importantly, He came to earth in a very humble fashion. He was not born into a king’s palace, but into a poor family. And His “cradle” was a place from which the animals ate their food. This reminds us that Jesus came for ALL of the people of the world — even the poor and lowly. But although He was a real baby, He was far from ordinary. His birth was proclaimed by angels from heaven. There was something special about Him. He came to be the “Savior”, as the angel said, “for you”!

John 1:1
In this verse we see the story of Jesus Christ from another perspective. It tells us that although He was “born” in Bethlehem, that in fact He had no origin. He existed from eternity. John 1:1 tells us that “In the beginning was the Word.” He had no beginning. When the earth and everything else was created, He already was! For Jesus was and is God: “the word was God.” This verse is packed with meaning about the nature of Jesus, and God. When it says that Jesus was “with God” it reminds us of the Nature of God, that the one true God forever exists as three distinct Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. John 1:1 is speaking of God the Son, Jesus. He is in some way “distinct” as a Person from the Person of God the Father, and yet He is also one and the same God: “the Word was God.” Thus we see that it was not a mere baby who was born that day in Bethlehem, but God the Son Himself who came to earth to teach us and to save us.

Matthew 2:1-12
This passage does not describe the birth of Jesus as much as it does the response of others here on earth to His birth. It is interesting to note the different ways that people in this passage responded to the birth of Jesus:
— The Jewish leaders “knew” the right answer about where the Christ was to be born: “in Bethlehem of Judea”, they said, and they quoted the prophet Micah who predicted it 700 years beforehand. But there is no evidence that these men ever did anything about what they knew about Jesus, or that they ever went to worship Him. It was an intellectual response only.
— King Herod “pretended” to want to go and worship Jesus, but he really wanted to kill Him, to protect his own rule over the people. His was a hypocritical response.
— But the magi went to find Jesus, and when they found Him, they worshiped Him for who He was: the true God, who had come to earth to be the Savior of the world!

Discussion

    1. What are some ways that you have seen or heard about how different people or cultures celebrate the Christmas holiday?
    2. Can you name some characters from literature who are myths or legends?
    3. What is the difference between them, and Jesus Christ?
    4. What difference would it make to you if the baby born in Bethlehem that day was not only a real human being, but also God?
    5. Does the fact that it is difficult for us to understand the Doctrine of the Trinity, that is God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, necessarily mean that it is not true? Are there things in other areas
      of your life which are difficult, or even impossible for you to understand, and yet you consider them to be true?
    6. What are some of the things that the magi did in Matthew 2:9-12 which show us that they really did respond to Jesus with genuine worship?

Do you know someone who has responded to the birth of Jesus like the Jewish leaders did? Like Herod? Like the magi?
Which of these do you feel was the greatest response to the birth of Jesus?

More about the birth of Jesus and his life:

Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem was predicted 700 years beforehand in Micah 5:2.  Other details of Jesus’ life were written centuries before His birth.
How are these facts evidence that Jesus was not an ordinary man?   Read more > > >

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