December 25 may have passed us by, but the message of Christmas will live on. Now for more than two thousand years, the Good News has been carried around the world many times. No other child has ever caused such a difference in the world; none ever will! Jesus' birth was so powerful that it split history right down the middle: B.C. and A.D.
If we were to leave Jesus in the manger, He would still be a difference-maker in the hearts and lives of many. Think of the words of these carols: "Away in the Manger", "Silent Night", and "Sweet Little Jesus Boy" and others. What peace, joy and comfort comes from mediating on these words, focusing on the promised Messiah. These are some of the first songs our children learn about Baby Jesus. They form a foundation for a belief-system to know Jesus later as Savior, Redeemer, and Lord.
And in the fullness of time one is able to comprehend the relationship between Jesus the Savior and man the sinner. Children, youth, adults - all must come to the realization that Jesus, the Christ-Child became Jesus, the Savior of mankind. "He came to seek and save us from our sin" ( Matt. 5:14-16 ). The more we open our lives to the sacred teachings of Jesus and trust in His promises, we experience the "miracle of Christmas" through the salvation promise of Him (John 3:16).
So, we begin packing away the Christmas decorations, turning our hearts and heads toward 2013! But echoes of Christmas shall follow us on into the new year, reminding us this "Christ-Child" did not stay in the manger. The shepherds left the manger and went into the wilderness of the Judean hillsides with the Good News. The Magi, traveling from afar, experienced the blessed joy in worshiping the long awaited Messiah and became messengers to all they encountered on their way home. Simeon and Anna (Luke 3:22-38), were awaiting the appearance of the Christ-Child, and were in the Temple when Mary and Joseph came for her purification offering. The Holy Spirit had promised Simeon that he would see "The Messiah" before he died. This is the One they had been waiting for! And that day, the promise was fulfilled
Jesus is still the One we wait and long for...to become the "Light of our world". And when we open our lives to Him, we, like the shepherds and Magi must "go tell it everywhere, that Jesus Christ is born."
Through bits and pieces of references to Jesus' formative years, we know He grew in statue, grace and wisdom (Luke 3: 40) Mary and Joseph learned early that Jesus had to be "about His Father's business".When they found him teaching and discussing matters of God with the elders of the faith, they were reminded of promises of the Messiah (Luke 3: 49-50). Another reference to Jesus' maturing as a young man, being fitted for His mission is found in Luke 3:51-52. John the Baptist introduced Jesus as "the Son of God who takes away the sins of the world"(John 1: 29-30). His mission was this: "I have come to seek and save that which is lost" (Luke 19:10). Paul assures us that we, then become joint-heirs in God's kingdom's. (Romans 8:17).
Looking toward the New Year, 2013, we scan mountain peaks and valleys ahead with renewed optimism and hope. Because of Bethlehem's birth, Calvary's sacrificial death and the Resurrection from death, our salvation is completed in Jesus' triumphant. We can sing"Joy to the world, the Lord has come". Throughout the New Year, this message needs to echo over the mountains and everywhere we go. Mahalia Jackson stirs the heart singing this spiritual: GO, TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN, OVER THE HILLS AND EVERYWHERE.... THAT JESUS CHRIST IS BORN.
Have a blessed New Year of serving God and His people.