Have you ever thought about how things changed with the birth of Jesus? Let’s look first at how Jesus’ birth changed the lives of Mary and Joseph:
Mary was young girl, engaged to be married to Joseph, a descendant of King David. Tradition would indicate that she was a young teenager, perhaps around 14 or 15 years old. Mary was probably confident about how her life would turn out. Marriage and children. . .a normal life. Until she receives an unexpected visit from the angel Gabriel. (Luke 1:26-38) Before she could be filled with excitement and wonder over having found favor with God, she is confused and amazed to find out that even as a virgin she is going to have God’s son!
Try explaining that to your Mom and Dad, much less your betrothed. While we don’t know how Mary’s family reacted, we do know how Joseph reacted. His initial reaction was hurt and betrayal, but he cared enough for Mary that he was going to break the betrothal quietly. Prior to finding out Mary was pregnant, Joseph was probably leading a normal life and was expecting to continue with that normal life once married. As he was making plans to quietly “divorce” Mary, an angel of the Lord came to visit him, reassuring him that he should continue with the marriage as planned because the child Mary carried had been conceived of the Holy Spirit. It was to be a son; Joseph was to name him Jesus, and he would save the people from their sins. (Matthew 1:19-24) Once Joseph heard and accepted the angel’s message, his life, as was Mary’s, was irrevocably changed forever. Their lives would not follow the typical path that others’ lives would take.
Even before Jesus was born, his birth changed lives. A Jewish priest named Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were an older, childless couple who were righteous in the sight of God, working carefully to keep all His commandments and regulations. While Zechariah was in the temple praying one day, an angel appeared to him. The angel reassured Zechariah that God had heard their prayers and that Elizabeth would be giving birth to a son. He was to name that son John. John would be great in the eyes of the Lord because he would be filled with the Holy Spirit even before his birth. (Luke 1:11-17) He would prepare the people for the arrival of God, and turn many sons and daughters of Israel back to their God. So even before his birth, Jesus changed the life of a childless couple because they would finally become parents to a son who would serve God by announcing the coming of God’s own son!
So how did Jesus’ birth bring a change to our lives? The religious experts at the time of Jesus’ birth were the Pharisees. They had a lot of things wrong. Their religion was based on rules and regulations—so many rules and regulations a person couldn’t realistically keep them all. The only way to communicate with God was through a temple priest. Jesus’ birth opened the door for man to have a personal relationship with God. His birth broke down the wall of communication—no intermediary would be needed because Jesus’ himself was our mediator, our priest. He was persecuted, nailed to a cross, died and was resurrected. Why? To reveal to us who God really is.
God’s plan was to bring salvation to those who choose to follow Him. For those who believe that Jesus was God in the flesh and that He died for our sins, the door opened for us to become a part of the Kingdom of God. (John 3:16-17, John 5:24)
Our eternity has changed. We have been changed from death to life. Without the birth of Jesus, we would have no hope. There would be no salvation. We would not have the Holy Spirit. We would be worshiping pagan gods rather than worshiping a personal, almighty, powerful Creator. We would have no forgiveness. The reality is—we would have nothing.
As I gaze around me at Christmas trees, ornaments, and lights, and as I witness people sharing their love via prayers, thoughts, actions and deeds, I know He changed my life–and I am so grateful. With Christ as my Savior, the meaning of Christmas is that much sweeter, has more significance, and brings me joyful contentment. Christmas is not about the presents we give and receive. It is about the greatest gift of all–the gift our Heavenly Father gave to all mankind on that night so long ago!
We are approaching the time of year where we celebrate Jesus’ birth. Where do you stand? Has Jesus changed your life? Do you believe He was born as the Savior of this world? Do you believe He gave His life as a sacrifice for our sins so that we could spend eternity with Him in heaven? Do you believe that He brought with His birth uncompromising love, enduring patience, blessed forgiveness, and eternal hope?
I believe. And I invite you to believe as well.