“On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me…etc, etc, etc.” Yes you know the song well, and by the time Christmas is over you may well be glad it is another year before you hear it again. It is of course “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Let me introduce you to an alternative “Twelve Days of Christmas.” For the next twelve days, an article, or blog as is the modern terminology, will appear on this website that will simply address the true meaning of Christmas. At a time when our society has generally has lost the reality of what Christmas is about, I encourage you, whoever you are and wherever you are to join with Townhead Christian Fellowship in our own “Twelve Days of Christmas.”
It was on Monday 3rd December 2012 that Buckingham Palace announced the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, William and Catherine were expecting a baby. The Duchess had taken unwell, and was admitted to hospital, prompting the announcement earlier than they had planned. We are not aware how much earlier than planned the announcement was, but it is likely that the news was announced in December rather than January, and the baby will be born around June. Here is a question to consider; how early can an announcement be made that someone is expecting a baby? The logical answer perhaps is “as soon as the person finds out.” Logical – yes, but not strictly true. It may come as a surprise, but there is at least one occasion where an announcement was made that a child was going to be born, before the mother was expecting. Even more surprising is the fact that this wasn’t announced days weeks or months prior to the event. The declaration was made 700 years before it happened. In the Bible, one of the writers, Isaiah, wrote this prediction.
Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child, and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah Chapter 7v14, The Bible).
Not only does Isaiah tell us about a child that is going to be born, he embellishes his statement with details about the mother, the gender of the child, the name he would be given, and the place of his birth (read about that tomorrow).
He is of course prophesying about the birth of Jesus. Perhaps as you read this, you have already in your mind raised the objection that the Bible is an old book that is just a big story and is not true. If that is the case, then take time to investigate that objection. Prophecy is one of the great pieces of evidence that the Bible is factually correct and accurate. In the Old Testament writings, there are over 300 prophesies made about Jesus, at least 400 years prior to his birth. During his lifetime, he fulfilled them one by one, and all the events are recorded not only in the 4 Gospels in the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), but also in many other accepted and verified books written during the 1st Century AD.
For a moment, let us consider the name he was to be given, “Immanuel”. This was one of many names and titles that would be given to Jesus. The name given to any child is important. It may be selected because the parents like it, or perhaps it sounds nice with the surname. Many children are named after a person, a parent or grandparent for example, and others are given a name because it has some significant meaning. “Immanuel” was a name selected because it means something significant. If you take time to look through the Christmas cards you receive this year, you may find some that have this word printed boldly on the front – “Immanuel”. But what does it mean, and why is it significant? In the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 1, the account is recorded of a how young virgin girl, Mary, and her fiancé, Joseph, discovered she was going to have a child. Verses 14 and 15 say this:
All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet [Isaiah]: “The virgin will be with child, and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel –which means “God with us”.
At Christmas, we celebrate, or at least we claim to celebrate, the birth of Jesus, the one who is the centre of the Christian faith. So often we have a cosy picture of a nativity scene in our minds, Mary and Joseph, a baby in a manger, some farmyard animals, a few shepherds, 3 wise men, a bright star, and some angels with bright shiny faces. Regardless of how accurate or inaccurate the Christmas card picture is, here is the real significance of that nativity scene. The child in the manger was “Immanuel – God with us”. The story of Christmas is that the eternal and infinite God came into this world and lived as a man. Jesus is described as the one in whom
He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God (Colossians Chapter 1v15, The Bible)
..all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form (Colossians Chapter 2v9, The Bible), and,
God manifest in flesh (1st Timothy Chapter 3v16, The Bible)
The Word [Jesus} became flesh and made His dwelling among us(John Chapter 1v14, The Bible)
However you celebrate Christmas, please take a moment to consider that the person at the centre of it all is no ordinary person, but God, who became a man, and came into the world with a definite purpose. As you continue to read these blogs, you will discover that the Biblical meaning of Christmas is much more than a nominal religious festival; it is a message of God coming to us, to bring us joy, hope, peace and salvation. These are incredible gifts that each person can have through Jesus Christ – Immanuel, “God with us.”