November 26, 2022
You’ve heard young couples say, “A baby changes everything.” There is a moment after the birth of a baby in which the entire world is transformed. Nine months of waiting have ended and a deep love previously unknown is awakened in the hearts of Mom, Dad, siblings, grandparents…every member of the family.
Magnify that joy trillions of times for the whole family of Man throughout all of history and you begin to understand why the birth of the baby Jesus profoundly changes everything for all time!
For millennia, whether they acknowledged it or not, all of humanity had been longing for Him, waiting for His birth and the redemption to follow.
That is why the heavens burst into song. Everything changes that night in Bethlehem. The shepherds marvel, the wise men travel…the thrill of hope is unleashed!
“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon Hs shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
The nativity is thrilling! But we must also admit that, more than 2,000 years later, for most people, the world feels at least as weary and broken as it did that first Christmas.
We do our best. We create elaborate celebrations with tinsel-covered trees, colorfully wrapped gifts, and family gathered around, but even our finest efforts don’t mask the pain of brokenness or satisfy the craving for wonder and worship built into the human heart.
So, with a deep yearning for meaning, even those who don’t know Christ come to church on Christmas Eve.
May everyone who is a child of God do everything possible this Christmas—especially this Christmas of 2022—to share Jesus with others. Yes, the world feels broken, but the great Physician has already provided for its healing; one day, perhaps soon, He will come again to restore all things.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the ways in which Jesus’ birth changes everything. First, we’re going to look back in time, centuries before He was born.
Did you know there is more than one Christmas story in the Bible? For instance, 700 years before the Lord Jesus Christ was born, Pastor Rogers said, “Isaiah the prophet dipped his pen in golden glory and wrote a biography of Jesus.”
Isaiah 7:14 says, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”
“Never, ever minimize the Virgin Birth,” Pastor Rogers said. “If Jesus had not been born of a virgin, He could not have been sinless. Had He not been born of a virgin, He would’ve been a son of Adam like I am, like you are, and in Adam, all die. And had He not been sinless, He could not have offered a blood atonement. So, no Virgin Birth, no deity. No deity, no sinlessness. No sinlessness, no atonement. No atonement, no forgiveness. No forgiveness, no hope of Heaven.”
Isaiah 53 tells us Jesus would grow up like a tender root, that He would look like an ordinary man, with no form or majesty that would cause people to desire Him, that He would be despised and rejected, would carry our sorrows, would be crushed for our sins, would be oppressed and afflicted, would be led to slaughter like an innocent lamb, and would ultimately bear the sin of many.
If you will read Isaiah 53 with an open heart and an open mind, Pastor Rogers said, “you will be absolutely convinced, number one, of the inspiration of the Scriptures, number two, of the deity of Jesus Christ, and number three, that He is the Messiah promised who came that Christmas so long ago.”
For more about Isaiah’s prophecy, read the article, Jesus: The Biography of Our King.
As we think about what the shepherds were doing on Bethlehem’s hillsides the Christmas Jesus was born, we gain greater insight into Jesus’ role as King and Savior.
Bethlehem, a little village about five miles south of Jerusalem, had been prophesied for centuries as the birthplace of the eternal King. In Micah 5:2 we read, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”
Bethlehem was also the place where, for centuries, the Jewish priests had been raising Passover lambs. Each year those lambs were taken to Jerusalem and slaughtered during the Passover to atone for the sins of the people.
“Of all of the creatures, the gentlest, the meekest, the most defenseless is a lamb,” Pastor Adrian Rogers said. “A lamb has no fangs, it has no claws, it cannot run, it cannot fight, it can frighten nothing. A lamb seems to say to you, ‘Are you hungry? Eat me. Are you cold? Shear me.’ A lamb seems to present itself to the slaughter.”
It was here in Bethlehem that the perfect lamb, the unblemished (sin-free) Son of God, was born in a stable and laid in an animal stall. He would be sacrificed 33 years later in Jerusalem during the Passover feast…at the very time of day when the Jewish priests were slaying the Passover lambs for the sins of the people.
“Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” John the Baptist declared at the beginning of Jesus' ministry in John 1:29. “Truly this man was the Son of God!” the centurion declared in Mark 15:39 after Jesus was sacrificed on the cross for our sins.
For more about Jesus’ role as God’s lamb, including His appearance as the victorious lamb in the Book of Revelation, read the article, Jesus: The Lamb of God.
How could this innocent lamb who willingly submitted Himself as a sacrifice divide time in two (BC and AD)? How could He, out of the sixty billion plus people scientists tell us have ever lived on this Earth, attract a combination of attention and devotion and criticism and adoration and opposition like no other person? Every recorded word He ever spoke has been analyzed, studied, dissected, scrutinized, labored over, and memorized for two millennia. He lived 20 centuries ago, but there’s not a single moment in which there are not millions of people studying what He said. Why?
Pastor Adrian Rogers gives us three reasons:
If we’re going to know God, somebody must take us by the hand and introduce us to Him, and Jesus alone is the one who reveals the Father.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation,” Colossians 1:15 says.
The word used for image is the Greek word “icon,” meaning, “exact replica.” The baby born in Bethlehem is God in human flesh.
“For it pleased the Father that in Him (Jesus) all the fullness (of God) should dwell,” Colossians 1:20 says.
“All of God is in Christ,” Pastor Rogers said. “God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are combined in the Lord Jesus Christ. And what this verse says is this: the only way you can know God as Father is through Jesus.”
“And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:18).
Only One, from eternity past to eternity future, occupies first place.
“It is Jesus who rules the Universe; Jesus is the power of creation” Pastor Rogers said. “That little baby that you read about in Matthew 1 is the mighty God of Genesis 1. The baby who is lying in a manger, whose dimpled feet are being tickled by the straw, that same Jesus is the mighty God who spoke the Universe into existence.”
John 1:3 says of Jesus, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”
God wrote the prologue to the Christmas story in Genesis. Following man’s loss of intimacy with God in the Garden, He included prophecy in Genesis of One who would come to save and restore.
He led up to the great story of Jesus with Noah’s ark, which provided a picture of salvation from a sinful world, with Abraham’s interrupted sacrifice of Isaac, which featured a substitutionary ram caught in a thorny thicket on Mt. Moriah, with the story of Joseph in Egypt, which pictured a Christ-type who saved his people, and with the story of the Passover lambs, whose blood caused the Angel of Death to pass over the homes of the Hebrews before their Exodus from Egypt. These and other biblical stories, written over the centuries by diverse authors inspired by the Great Author of the great story—His story—all moved Mankind toward Christmas and on to Calvary.
“Friend, it’s His deity that makes His death so remarkable,” Pastor Rogers said. The Creator died for His creatures. “His death makes His deity knowable.”
For more about the singularity of Jesus Christ and a better understanding of why He alone is qualified to save sinful Man, read the article, Jesus: The One and Only Lord and Savior.
How do you prepare for Christmas? You may spend weeks searching for just the right gifts, plan elaborate celebrations featuring picture-perfect charcuterie, light every candle, and decorate every corner.
All those things are merely incidental to the wonder of Christmas: “The wisest thing you could ever do at Christmastime, or any other time, is to worship Jesus,” said Pastor Rogers.
This is the wisdom of the Magi from the East as recorded in the story of the birth of Jesus in Matthew 2. While there is much we don’t know about these wise men—how many there were, whether they traveled on camels or horses, what their entourage looked like—we know that they traveled a great distance over inhospitable terrain, faced the dangers of nature, and met with treacherous Herod. They were determined to worship God.
They gave up time, comfort, and possessions in exchange for the exceeding joy of worshiping the Christ child.
“I wonder, does worship mean that much to you, or do you have sort of a take it or leave it attitude?” Pastor Rogers asked. “The Bible says, ‘Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart’ (Jeremiah 29:13, KJV). God have mercy upon our half-hearted worship! I mean, if He’s worth anything, He’s worth everything.”
For more about the Wise Men, their travels, their sacrifice, and their worship, read the article, Jesus: Wise Men Worship Him.
Jesus’ birth, His life—filled with miracles and teaching recorded by secular as well as biblical writers—His agonizing death on a Roman cross, His empty tomb (for which a body was never found), His heavily witnessed resurrection appearances, His ascension, and His promise to return, force us to ask who He really is.
Is He a messenger of God as Islam claims, a mystic medium as described by New Agers, a great teacher according to the thinking of philosophers, or a good man who promotes love and kindness?
Let’s look at what He says about Himself:
“All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Matthew 11:27). Jesus says He alone is the Son who knows and reveals the Father. Also, Christ says that “all things” have been given to Him by God. Because no one knows the thoughts of God except God and only God has control over everything, Jesus makes himself equal to God.
Jesus also says in Matthew 28:18, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Who but God has all such authority?
In Mark Luke 5: 17-26, after healing a paralytic, Jesus forgives the man’s sins. The Pharisees question the act of forgiveness because they know that only God forgives sin and rightly recognize that Jesus is making a claim to be God. They mutter against Him, calling Him a blasphemer.
Jesus makes this bold claim in John 8:58: “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” He calls Himself the all-powerful name of the Great I AM both here and with His disciples in Matthew 14 when He walks on water to come to them in a great storm.
In numerous other places, He reveals His deity. That is why the late theologian C.S. Lewis posed the great question of Jesus’ identity this way in his book, “Mere Christianity”:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him [that is, Christ]: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse…. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
We all must decide for ourselves whether to believe Jesus is God (even the demons recognize this as fact), and, if so, what we will do about it. But it is impossible to truly celebrate the Christ of Christmas without worshipping the God of the Universe.
For more about the identity of Jesus, read the article, Jesus: Baby, Son of God, the Great I AM.
In these precious days surrounding the celebration of the birth of Christ, will you go to the manger in humility and repentance? Will you look on the lamb and accept His sacrifice in your place? Will you recognize His kingship and, like the Magi, bring Him the gift of your worship?
If so, you will know what joy to the world means. You will find the stars brightly shining in the holy night. Every Christmas tradition will take on new meaning, and every day after will bring opportunities to share your new-found peace with others.
Jesus will be born in you.
He alone dispels the darkness and conquers death. He is the catalyst for all wonder and worship. He is the thrill of hope! He awakens in us a heavenly love previously unimaginable. It is the truth of His Gospel story—His death, resurrection, ascension, and soon return to claim His own—that at last heals our world and satisfies our hearts.
That’s the full meaning of Christmas.
Baby Jesus changes everything!