Around the world this week many people will celebrate Christmas and remember the birth of Jesus Christ. Many will attend a Carol Service to sing familiar carols and hear Bible readings about his birth. Parents will go to see their children taking part in nativity plays and playing the parts of Mary and Joseph, the shepherds and the wise men. Deep in the subconscious minds of people, many of whom do not attend church regularly, there is a sense that the birth of Jesus is significant and is more than a nice story, and they are right.
Centuries before Jesus was born the prophet Isaiah spoke about what would happen and explained its meaning. He said, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” The birth of Jesus was the pivotal point in history and even our calendar reflects this.
The events surrounding Jesus’ birth are simple yet amazing and wonderful. Mary, a teenage girl, conceived a child when she was betrothed to be married to Joseph. She was a virgin and had to endure misunderstanding even from her beloved Joseph at first. The baby in her womb had been conceived supernaturally by the power of the Holy Spirit. He was a human being, but also truly divine. He was God’s son who was given. He had always existed as the Son of his heavenly Father and now came as God’s gift to the peoples of the world.
This child, who was so vulnerable at first to those who tried to kill him, was a great King. He established a kingdom which has spread through the whole world. Last year I attended a conference in South Africa attended by more than 4000 Christians from 197 countries of the world. All of us who were there have experienced God’s love in Jesus Christ. We gladly live under his gracious rule now and look forward to being with him in heaven for ever.
We can all learn something from the children’s nativity plays. We not need to be powerful or clever to know Jesus Christ as our Saviour. In fact these things often become barriers to true faith. God gave his Son, Jesus, so that all who come in childlike faith to him will have life and have it to the full.