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The Wonders of Christmas PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ir. David Kurniadi   
Monday, 18 December 2017 04:37

Christmas is not as simple as the way we celebrate it every year in the church. This was a spectacular event that God prepared it carefully and precisely long long time ago even before the creation of the earth. It was God the Father, who wants it and plans everything. And God the Son, who executed it: carried out, administered the Father’s plan and also as the central figure of Christmas. And the Holy Spirit was the power that worked out everything for Christmas to happen. The first Christmas involved an angel, heavenly hosts, and sincere and obedient people from different kind of society. Meanwhile there was Satan who tried to infiltrate, thwart and to ruin it, but he failed, because God the Father holds the control over all situations.


Christmas had been planned before the creation of the earth:


“He was chosen (as Savior) before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake” (1 Peter 1:20).


God the Father had foreseen the fall of man before He created the world. He wanted to create the beautiful world (Genesis 1:31). And in it, God wanted to make mankind whom He gave freedom to choose in order that man would choose willingly to serve God and obey His command. But God also had seen the risk due to the free will He had given that man would misuse his free will to rebel against God and disobey Him. If this would happen, man would fall into sin (Romans 3:23) and become sinful being that will perish.


Therefore God the Father had made a plan to save mankind by the redemption of their sin. And God the Son, who totally obeys God the Father, gave Himself to become the Savior for humankind by going down into the world to redeem their sin (Matthew 1:21).


“Give Him the name Jesus, because He will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).


The descending of Jesus into the world and His incarnation to become a man, that’s what we call as Christmas.


So Christmas had been prepared long before the earth was created. If there would be no Christmas, God would never created the world and humankind, because God would never create something that will perish and cannot be saved. Therefore the world and man were created because Christmas.


The epistle of Hebrew wrote this mystery of Christmas:


“Therefore, when Christ came into the world (at Christmas), He said: Sacrifice and offering (of animal) you did not desire (as a ransom for sins, because it’s inadequate) – but a body you prepared for me (to incarnate as human); with burn offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased (because it’s inadequate). Then I said: Here I am – it is written about me in the scroll (prophecies about Christ) – I have come to do your will (to save man from their sins), my God” (Hebrew 10:5-7).


This was the prophecy about the coming of Christ, the Messiah. It was written in the scroll six centuries before He was born:


“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6)


The perfect preparation:


“But when the set time had fully come (after all preparations had been done), God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law” (Galatians 4:4).


Right after the fall of man into sin in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:6-11) then God immediately declared His plan of man salvation:


“And I will put enmity between you (Satan) and the woman, and between your offspring and her Offspring (Christ, the Messiah); He will bruise and tread your head underfoot, and you will lie in wait and bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15; Amplified Bible).


Since then Satan exerted every effort to frustrate God’s plan of salvation. He killed Abel by the hand of Cain (Genesis 4:8) and Cain run away from God and became godless (Genesis 4:16). But God gave Seth to Adam in place of Abel (Genesis 4:25-26) to continue His plan of salvation. But the Devil again made mankind rebelled against God that made God to punish and wipe them away with great flood, but saved Noah and his family, because they were blameless among the people of his time (Genesis 6:7-9). From Noah God chose Shem, one of Noah’s sons, and from Shem descendants God chose Abram (Genesis 12:1-2), whose name was later changed to Abraham by God, to be part of the plan of salvation through his “Seed” (Genesis 22:18). Unto Abraham God promised the coming of the Messiah. From Abraham’s sons God chose Isaac, and from Isaac’s sons God chose Jacob to become the ancestor of the twelve tribes of Israel. From the twelve tribes God chose Judah, and from Judah came the kings of Israel (Genesis 49:10), one of them is David. Unto David God promised that Messiah would come from his family line (2 Samuel 7:12-13). From David came Solomon and from Solomon descendants born Joseph, who had been chosen by God to become the earthly father of Jesus (Matthew 1:1-16).    


This was God’s promise unto David about the Messiah, Who would come from his family line:


“I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:12-13).


The angel Gabriel reconfirmed God’s promise to David unto Mary, who would conceive the Savior:


“You will conceive and give birth to a Son, and you are to call Him Jesus. 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, and He will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; His kingdom will never end” (Lukas 1:31-33).


From another family line of David came Nathan (Luke 3:31), Solomon’s brother. And from Nathan came Eli, who’s actually the father of Mary, but since he had no son, so Joseph, Mary’s husband, Eli son in law, was thought as his son (Luke 3:23-38). So, both Joseph and Mary are the descendants of king David.


Long History Line:


From Jacob came the twelve tribes of Israel, who went to Egypt and lived there for 430 years. The Israelites were multiplied greatly from 70 people (Exodus 46:27) became six hundreds thousands adult men not including women and children, so totally about 2.4 million people.


Israel, leaded by Moses, went out from Egypt and made their journey in the wilderness for 40 years (Deuteronomy 8:2). Then, leaded by Joshua, Israel entered Canaan, the Promised Land. After Joshua died, the Judges - charismatic leaders - leaded Israel for about 350 years. During that time Israel many times fell in worshiping detestable idols. After the Judges, Israel became a kingdom, leaded by kings, beginning with king Saul, king David, king Solomon and many kings until the kingdom of Israel was conquered by Assyrian and Babylonian kingdom and were brought as captives to Babel. The kingdom period was last for 557 years, and after that Israel lived in captivity in Babel for 70 years.


In Babel, in the place of idols, there was awareness among the Israelites to turn back to God. They were afraid that Israel would lose their identity as a nation if they continue to worship idols like Babylonians. So they united themselves as the worshipers of Yahweh, the One True God. There were also some changes in their religious tradition: from verbal or oral tradition into literal; they began to make a compilation of the scriptures and made copies of it. There were also people, who learned about scriptures and became expert in the Scriptures like Ezra. And since the Holy Temple was in Jerusalem, while they were lived in Babel, so they began worship God in synagogues.


This at a later time opened the way for Jesus’ ministry on earth because Israel had turned back to worship Yahweh, the One True God. Jesus could teach from one synagogue to another in many places in Israel, including Nazareth (Luke 4:16) and Capernaum (Luke 4:31), because there were copies of Scriptures available, so Jesus could explain about Himself from the prophecies written in the Scriptures about Him (Luke 4:16-21). He said: “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Verse 21). Jesus always used the Scriptures to explain about Him, His teachings, His death and resurrection, like He did to His disciples on the way to Emmaus (Luke 24:27).


After the age of Babylonian and Persian Empire, the Greek Empire (331-164 BC) took the power and control over many nations at that time; that was when Alexander The Great was in power, and after him, when the Greek Empire broke into four. The Greek Empire has caused all the nations they colonized got to know the Greek language or Latin. This in the later time opened the way for the apostles of Jesus more easily to teach the Gospel in Latin and understood, so there was not much language barrier in the places where they evangelized.


After the Greek Empire, came the Roman Empire that took the power from the Greek in 63 BC. The Roman Empire built many roads from Rome to the countries they colonized, so there was a saying “there are many ways to Rome.” This also opened the way for spreading the Gospel, because the apostles were easily travelled to many countries by road that was safe because guarded by the Roman soldiers.  


And after all these preparation were complete, then God sent His Only Begotten Son to come into the world, because the world were ready to enter the new era that was brought by the Lord Jesus Christ. That is why the world civilization is divided into two: years before Christ (BC) and years after the coming of Christ (AD: Anno Domini or the year of the Lord). 


Here we see that God works together with world’s history. History doesn’t move wild just like that, but God controls it. In the same way, God works in our history. He works together with everything that happened in our life to bring goodness, for those who love Him and faithful to His calling (Romans 8:28).


Since God controls history, therefore our future is in His hand. God knows the end from the beginning. So let us yield our life totally to Him and don’t rely upon our own strength and understanding (Proverbs 3:5; Jeremiah 17:5-8).


The perfect and wonderful arrangement:


“God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law (subject to the Law)” (Galatians 4:4).


Jesus, the Son of God, must fulfill the Law, because He came not to abolish the Law but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). So in order that His Son to fulfill the Law, God the Father arranged everything perfectly for Him.


Mary was a virgin who lived in the town of Nazareth in Galilee. She was engaged with a man named Joseph, the descendant of David (Luke 1:27). Joseph was a man, who faithful to the Law; so was Mary.


One day the angel Gabriel came to Mary and told her that she would conceive and give birth to a son, and she should name Him Jesus. He will be called the Son of the Most High (Luke 1:26-33). Certainly this angelic news troubled her greatly (verse 29), because she was a virgin and has engaged with a man. She asked how could this be happened (verse 34). The angel Gabriel replied that the Holy Spirit would come on her so that her pregnancy was caused by the power of the Holy Spirit (verse 35).   


Mary was troubled because she thought what would people say if they found her pregnant before she got married? Would people believe if she would tell them that she was pregnant of the Holy Spirit? What would happen if they accuse her adultery and unfaithful? Joseph will certainly break the engagement (Matthew 1:19), and more over, people would accused her immoral and stone her to death according to the Law (Leviticus 20:10), and her whole family would be disgraced. So, Mary knew this horrible risk she could bear.


But, because she loved God and submit herself to God in obedience, she therefore willingly took the risk to accept the mission God gave her. She believed that God would defend and protect her. So, she submitted herself to God that God might use her womb to conceive and deliver the Son of God into the world in human fashion. She said: “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38). What a great faith that Mary proved with her obedience?


We often talk about faith but we seldom prove it with acts (James 2:18). Faith is proved by acts (James 2:20): acts of obedience toward God’s wills and commands. But obedience carries risks: price that we must pay. When people begin to calculate the risk that carried by obedience, many of them would begin to withdraw because they don’t want to take a risk and pay the price. But to those who would to take the risk and pay the price, God will responsible for their sacrifices and will not loose His hands of them nor forsake them.


God knew the risk that could fall upon Mary, and He understood her trouble and her fear. So God immediately sent the angel Gabriel to Joseph, who at that time considered ending his engagement with Mary after he heard that Mary was pregnant; Joseph was a man who faithful to the Law (Matthew 1:19). And the angel Gabriel commanded Joseph to immediately take Mary as his wife (Matthew 1:20) in order to save Mary from the accusation of adultery that people could cast on her; the accusation that could disgrace her and her family and make her stoned to death. Thank God, Joseph was an obedient person (Matthew 1:24), so he took Mary as his wife and accept the child that was conceived in her womb. Mary was avoided from disgrace and danger because Joseph obeyed the command of the angel.  


Because the obedience of these two people God’s plan to send His Son into the world can be done. God requires our obedience to make His plan done on earth through us. Indeed God is Almighty and nothing is impossible to Him, but He chooses to make us as His working partner to accomplish His plan (1 Corinthians 3:9).


For sometime Mary went to the hill country, to Elizabeth her cousin. Elizabeth was Zachariah’s wife, who was also conceived a baby at her old age (Luke 1:36,39). Mary probably doubted if Elizabeth would believe her if she told her that she was conceived a baby of the Holy Spirit, because never before a virgin was pregnant because of the Holy Spirit. However the Holy Spirit helped Mary by making the baby that was in Elizabeth womb to leap and Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit. So Elizabeth received Mary to stay with her for sometime (Luke 1:40-45).


Divine perfect arrangement will be given unto us who would believe and obey the Lord even if we should take a risk or pay the price of obedience. God will not escape the responsibility upon those who would obey Him. The risk that we bear and the price that we pay considered as cross that would be rewarded (2 Timothy 4:7-8).


Another divine arrangement was made, when Jesus must fulfilled the requirement of the Law that was to be circumcised at the eighth day (Leviticus 12:2-3) and presented to the God together with the purification of Mary, His earthly mother (Leviticus 12:6-8).


According to the historical record, Jesus was born in 4 BC that was when Herod was king over Judea (Matthew 2:1). The Passover celebration that year was at 11th of April. While at 11th of April the king in Judea was not Herod anymore but Archelaus his son (Matthew 2:19-23), because Herod had died at the 1st of April and Archelaus mourned for him for seven days.


Before Herod’s death, he made cruel acts by killing babies at the night Jesus was born (Matthew 2:16). Herod also killed two rabbis and 40 Jewish young men who destroyed the golden eagle statue he had placed in the Holy Temple. Herod built the Temple to persuade the Jewish people that they would be loyal to the Roman Empire. These cruel acts made the situation in Jerusalem became turmoil. But Herod died shortly afterward, and Archelaus became his successor.


Archelaus tried to cool down the anger of the Jewish people by sending the troops. But people stoned them and some of them injured and killed. Then Archelaus mobilized the whole Romans soldiers in Jerusalem to besiege the Holy Temple and did not allow anybody to enter the Temple. It was Passover night and there was an uprising in Jerusalem that caused 3000 people killed that night. And Archelaus announced the cancellation of Passover celebration that year.


But when we read the Gospel of Luke, Joseph and Mary with baby Jesus came into the Holy Temple to make a purification ceremony and presenting baby Jesus to God (Luke 2:22). They also came to celebrate the Passover. This was in order that Jesus may fulfill the Law (Galatians 4:4). There in the Temple, they met Simeon (Luke 2:25-28) and also Hannah (Luke 2:36-38). It means that they came to the Temple before the Romans soldiers closed the Temple: probably between morning and noontime, before the soldiers came, so they could enter the Temple.


The purification ceremony for a woman who give birth to a male child was 40 days according to the Law (Leviticus 12:2-4). So if we counting backward 40 days from 11th of April we can conclude that Jesus was born at 2nd of March 4 BC. It was springtime so the shepherd abiding in the field with their flock by night (Luke 2:8). If it was in December, which was winter, as the Christmas tradition says, the shepherd would not in the field with their flock.


When Jesus was born, the Magi from the East came to visit Him (Matthew 2:1). And they offered their gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2:11). The coming of the Magi, who were the kings from the Orient, has made king Herod troubled, because the Magi were looking for the newborn king, while Herod was the king in Judea. So Herod slew all the children that were in Bethlehem (verse 16). That very night, after the Magi met baby Jesus and departed, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and asked him to immediately take the baby and his mother flee to Egypt, to escape from Herod’s wrath (verse 13). They went to a town at the border of Egypt and Israel, which was six days’ journey away. And at the eighth day they circumcised baby Jesus in Egypt according to the Law (Luke 2:21). They stayed in Egypt until Herod died (Matthew 2:15).


Herod died and Archelaus his son succeeded him as king in Judea (verse 19). Herod must die at 1st of April. God made him dead that day in order that Mary could go to the Temple for purification ceremony at 11th of April morning or noon before the Roman soldiers besieged it. Mary must do the purification 40 days after she gave birth the baby, and it was fall at 11th of April 4 BC.


After Herod was dead, the angel appeared to Joseph and commanded him to go back to Israel (Luke 2:19-21). It took 6 days for Joseph and Mary and baby Jesus to travel from Egyptian border back to Nazareth. After they took one day for Sabbath rest, they continued their travel to Jerusalem, to the Holy Temple. It took 3 days to travel from Nazareth to Jerusalem. So they arrived at 11th of April. They went into the Temple and did the purification ceremony and presented baby Jesus to God. They must arrive in the Temple before the Roman soldiers closed the Temple.


Here we see again the perfect divine arrangement of God and the fulfillment of God’s will and plan in Jesus that the Son of God would not violate the Law but to fulfill it.


Everything is beautiful in God’s time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). It is God who organizes everything according to His wonderful plans. He knows everything from the beginning to the end, but we cannot comprehend it.


The beautiful, awesome and glorious happening:


Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem the city of David to be registered following the decree of the emperor Augustus, because Mary and Joseph were the descendants of David. At that time, it was the time for Mary to give birth to the baby. But there was no room for them in the inn; it was occupied. Finally Mary had to deliver the baby in the sheepfold and wrapped the baby with swaddling clothes and put him in the manger (Luke 2:1-6).


That night nobody knew and realized that the Son of God came into the world (John 1:9-10) and incarnated as human (verse 14). The baby was named Jesus according to the instruction of angel Gabriel (Luke 1:31; Matthew 1:21).


At that silent night, when nobody knew that the Savior, the Son of the Most High was born, the angel brought the good news to the shepherds, who was watching their sheep in the field, and invited them to see the baby Jesus, Who was just born in the sheepfold.


“Fear not: for behold, I bring you good news of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior that is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (Lukas 2:10-12).


The announcement of the birth of the Son of God was also given to some people who lived in a very far country: to the Maggi, the kings from the Orient. They were astrologers who studied the star constellation. The announcement was given by the appearance of an extraordinary bright star in the sky. The Magi believed that it was a sign that a new king was born. So, leaded by the star, they took a very long journey from the East to Jerusalem. Their arrival in Jerusalem has made Herod and the whole city to an uproar. The Magi finally arrived in Bethlehem at the place where baby Jesus was born. They worshiped Him and offered their gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2:1-11).


There was an incredible view in the room where Jesus was born, though it was just a sheepfold. The Magi, who were the kings from the Orient, and the humble shepherds, who were poor, uneducated and considered low class, were gathered together in the same room. They surrounded the baby Jesus, who was laid in the manger. They were amazed and worshiped Him. Two different classes of people were met together in the same place, worshiping the Son of God, who became human being. What a beautiful view when all God’s children come together to before God worship Him, without questioning about social status.


“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor there is male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatia 3:28).


That night, when nobody celebrated His birth, Heaven made it very lively. Although it was so simple on earth, but in the sky there was festivity. God the Father presented the grandest choir ever in the history, His heavenly hosts:


“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests” (Lukas 2:13-14).


The heavenly host praised God the Father, Who was willing to give His Son to save man from sin (John 3:16-17). This was according to His plan that He had from the beginning, before the creation of the world.


We see that Christmas is really a great event. God planned it and prepared it thoroughly and carefully. Without Christmas, without the coming of the Son of God into the world, man will perish in sin.


The question is: what has driven God to do it?


The gospel of John answers this question clearly. John described Christmas in a different way than Matthew and Luke described it. Matthew and Luke described the event of Christmas, but John described the real meaning of Christmas and its background.


John described Christmas as follow:


“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was mad through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him … The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:9-11,14).


That is Christmas according to the Gospel of John. He also described its background, which he quoted from the statement of Jesus, the Central Figure of Christmas itself. Jesus told us why God the Father sent Him into the world and incarnated in human form.


“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him” (John 3:16-17).


Christmas was driven by God’s great love upon the world. The world: which God created so beautiful in the beginning (Genesis 1:31). God doesn’t want it to perish. That is why He sent His Son to save it.


But Christmas was not happened because of God’s love only, but also because of obedience: the obedience of Mary and Joseph, who willingly obeyed the Lord even they must take great risks. And all of these happened in Christmas.


God is Almighty. There is nothing impossible for Him. He is able to do anything He wants. But on earth God chooses to make those who believe in Him to become His partner in making His will to be done. All He need is our obedience; our willingness to obey His commands. When we obey Him, we will be greatly rewarded. But more than that, His favor will rest on us.


Merry Christmas.

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Kerinduan Yang Menjadikan Anda Luar Biasa

Allah menunjukkan bahwa orang-orang Kristen luar biasa, hanyalah orang-orang Kristen yang biasa yang telah berani percaya kepada janji-janji-Nya. Mereka adalah orang-orang Kristen yang memiliki kelaparan, untuk melihat orang-orang datang kepada keselamatan, orang sakit disembuhkan, yang terikat dilepaskan, yang hancur hati kembali utuh. Dan keluarga-keluarga dipulihkan. (Angus Buchan, dalam bukunya : Faith Like Potatoes; Metanoia)

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