Perhaps the best known symbol of this season is the star of Bethlehem. It is common for Christmas trees to be crowned with a star on the top, with lights which shine like stars wonderfully scattered all about. The star is often an important symbol of the Christmas celebration. The star God used to lead the seekers to the place were Jesus was in Bethlehem was spoken of by the Magi in Matthew. “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him.’” (Matthew 2:1-2) After giving Herod the exact time the star appeared, Herod sent the Magi onto Bethlehem. While on their way, the star they had been following led them to the place where Jesus was. The Bible says. “When they had seen the star, they were over-joyed.” (Matthew 2:10)
It is imperative that we understand these men were not kings, but a combination of wise men and priests, very likely from Persia. These men of prominence filled both roles of political and religious, men who would do the hard work of study. If these men were from Persia, the land that was once called the Babylonian Empire, the place were the Jews were held in captivity for seventy years. It is very likely these educated men would have come across some writings from God fearing Hebrews. There is no such thing as coincidences, only God’s full controlling hand. It is safe to assume, these men may have came across writings like what is found in the Book of Numbers, Balaam’s prophecy, “A star will come out of Jacob, a scepter will rise out of Israel.” (Numbers 24:17)
It is interesting, the Bible says the star appeared and led them to the house were Mary and Jesus was. It is as simple as this, A super natural star in the atmospheric heaven leads the wise men to Jesus who was born through a super-natural birth. Herod took the leading of the star seriously, everyone else should to. Herod responded with fear, someone being born who he thought would take his place as king. People who want to be king and lord over their owns lives, respond to Jesus much like Herod did. Kingdom seekers, respond much like the wise-men did, they worship the Lord. The star of Bethlehem pointed people to were Christ was, through the declaration of the wise men, secular kings, Hebrew priest and all of Jerusalem were well informed.
God used physical matter to draw attention to the Christ, He also used Scripture to point to Jesus. Matthew writes, “King Herod… was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priest and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. ‘In Bethlehem in Judah.’ …this is what the prophet wrote, ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler Who will be the shepherd of My people.” (Matthew 2:3-6) . .
Scripture declares, “…we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:19-21) The Book of Revelation has this Scriptural revelation, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to give this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” (Revelation 22:16)
Christians who have a heart desire to be a shining star for the Lord must be able to show seekers how the whole of Scripture points to Jesus being the Messiah, the Christ who is the Savior of the world. God also uses people to point others to Christ. John 1:6-8 says, “There was a man named John. He came as a witness testifying concerning the light [Jesus], so through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.” (John 1:6-8) In John chapter three and four we read of the beloved John testifying that Jesus is God’s Son. In the Book of Acts we read of Stephen pointing the Sanhedrin to Christ. (Acts 7:1-60) The Apostle Paul many times over pointed people to Jesus. Both Stephen and Paul used the Holy Scriptures to teach about the Lord and point people to Jesus Christ. At the baptism of Jesus, God Himself spoke from heaven, “This is My Son, Whom I love, with Him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)
All Christians have at some point of their lives have been told by someone who Jesus is. Christians have in some way told others enough about the Bible’s teaching in regard to the Christ who was born to die for the sins of the world. God, through the Holy Spirit enables us to understand the Scriptures so we may believe and have eternal life. Let the Holy Spirit awaken you to a Devine truth. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. …. let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14,16) . We have the Great Commission through Jesus Christ, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father… Son… and the Holy Spirit. And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
God’s Word gives clear direction for us, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose. Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.” (Philippians 2:12-16)
At that first Christmas, the star was successful in bringing attention to Christ. The Scriptures point to Jesus, God wants us to point others to Jesus Christ! The world view holds many in the dark. The star was not shining in a building or only where people who are like minded could see it. It brought attention to Jesus before the eyes of those who live a far off, His enemies, all of Jerusalem, and especially to those who are wise, Kingdom seekers. During a time were Satan and the world view of Christmas is out shining the Christ of Christmas, we are called to get the Scriptures out through radio, the local paper, the internet, all of our modern day media resources.
The Significance of the Gifts / Ingredients For Christmas Worship
Matthew 2:8-11 says, “He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find Him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship Him.’ After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.”
The Old and New Testament Scriptures hold truths about the birth of Jesus Christ. The truths regarding the gifts offered by the Magi are worthy of consideration if we desire to give Christ the honor He deserves. God has often used symbolism to breath truth into the hearts of God fearing people. There are symbolic meanings found in Scripture which should have an influence on how we honor the King of kings.
First, the Bible says “they opened their treasures and presented Him with Gold.” Gold (χρυσός chrusós) is often seen as symbolic for a gift worthy of a king, a precious metal prized for it’s beauty and value, an appropriate gift for royalty. Seneca tells us that in Parthia it was the custom, no one could ever approach the king without a gift. Gold at the time of the birth of Christ was and is now a precious metal, a gift for the King of men. Jesus is the God man Whom can reign and rule over men’s hearts. In the hearts of Christians there is submission to Jesus, the Devine person of Whom the gift of gold can be symbolic of us giving our best to Him.
Second, “They presented Him with the treasure… of incense.” “Frankincense” (λίβανος líbanos) often referred in Scripture as an aroma pleasing to the Lord. It is a fragrance which is offered in direct adoration to the Lord. This incense reflected His deity and was sprinkled on many of the sacrifices in the Old Testament. (Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.) Frankincense is a gift for a priest. The Latin word for priest is ponitfex, which means a bridge-builder. It is not out of line to see the gift of Frankincense being offered to the One Whom is our “high priest who is not unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16) The Christ’s born in Bethlehem is the bridge-builder over the gulf of sin that once separated us from God.
Third, “They presented Him with the treasure… [of] myrrh.” Myrrh (σμύρνα smúrna) an expensive spice used for making perfume, incense, medicine, for anointing and embalming the dead. During Biblical times, myrrh was an important trade item. Myrrh is a aromatic fragrant which radiates spontaneously and is highly favored for preserving a corpse. (ThoughtCo; Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 77). New York: United Bible Societies; Barclay, W. (Ed.). (1976). The Gospel of Matthew (Vol. 1, pp. 32–33). Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster John Knox Press.) We know that Nicodemus mixed myrrh and aloes together, seventy-five pounds of it. He and Joseph of Arimathea, took the spices put it on Jesus’ body and wrapped it in linen strips, in accordance with Jewish burial customs. (John 19:38-42) It is interesting to read in Exodus, myrrh is the first mentioned principal ingredient in the holy anointing oil. (Easton, M. G. (1893). In Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers; Vine, W. E., Unger, M. F., & White, W., Jr. (1996). Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Vol. 2, p. 423). Nashville, TN: T. Nelson.) Oil is frequently mentioned in Scripture as an emblem of sanctification and anointing with it is a means of designating objects as well as persons to the service of God. In Exodus 30:23 we read the oil was prescribed by God’s authority. (Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 68). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) Jesus’ birth was ordained by God. It has been well said, “Christ’s was born to die, to give His life in obedience for the sins of the world.”
Note: The heartbeat of the Magi, the wise men gave a gift to Jesus worthy for the King of kings, a gift for the one Whom is the final High Priest, a gift for the One Who was the only pure sacrifice for the sins of the world. It should also be noted, although the gifts presented truths about who Jesus Christ was for all of mankind, the gifts also provided for the needs of Jesus and His family when they fled for Egypt. Are you giving Christ your best? Are you allowing Him to be the priest, the bridge-builder over the gulf of sin that can keep you from a relationship with God? Lastly, are you like the Apostle Paul saying, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) Those are the ingredients for Christmas worship which is a pleasing aroma to the Lord.
“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born… She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in the manger…” (Luke 2:6-7) The irony of the most important event in history taking place in a stable should not be lost. There are some significance’s worth noting because it reveals how God resides in the lowliest of hearts.
Just as Christ was born in a stinky stable, the Holy Spirit of Christ is born in the man or woman who, in repentance, turns to Christ for forgiveness. The heart of man is often chasing after self-will and the things of this world as he amazingly listens to the lies of the devil. All this is an unpleasing aroma to the Lord.
The love of God is expressed as He sends the Holy Spirit of Christ into the spiritual hearts of Christians. In Romans 8:9 the Holy Spirit is referred to as the Spirit of Christ. The Bible says Christians will know Him and that He lives in them. (John 14:17) God’s amazing love is always demonstrated by action. It is never complacent but continually working in Christians. The Spirit of Christ dwelling within the spiritual heart of Christians cleans them up and makes new people out of them. Romans 8:9-11 says, “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the [Holy] Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ… And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you.”
The true mark of a born-again believer and a genuine Christian is that he has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The child of God who knows the love of God, sent into their lives by Christ says as the Apostle Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) If you are not conscious of the presence of the Spirit of God in your life and there is not a heartfelt desire to exercise your Spiritual gifts, talents, and abilities for the glory of God, then grasp Christ this Christmas and receive Him as personal Savior and Lord. Is the Christ of Christmas in You?
1 John 4:9-12 says, “This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:9-12)
In Christ there is reconciliation between God and those who truly have Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. This peace comes to us not because we showed love to God, but because God loved us first. This is a truth that must be grasped this Christmas season if we are going to walk in a joyous Christmas spirit.
1 John 2:2 in the New American Standard Bible tells that Jesus “…is the propitiation of our sins, and not just ours, but also for those of the whole world.” Propitiation is something God does to make it possible for men to be forgiven.
God’s Word is revelation and His holiness requires Him to uphold that law of God. He is also love and therefore He forgives sinners. He sent His Son to make a way for mankind to receive forgiveness of sin. God did this because He is love. We did not or can not do anything to cause Him to love us.
God did not give us His Son because we were attractive, or because we were good or because we make promises to do things for Him. He does not give us eternal life because He can gain something from us. Romans 5:8 proclaims a powerful truth, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Anyone who has ever had children knows that sometimes an expression of love is what is needed even when the feeling of love is not present. Children at times make poor decisions when they are engaging in sin that hurts themselves, others and the God who created them. People sin and Christians slip into sin which grieves the heart of the Lord, yet while that act of sin is bringing about its consequences, Jesus paid the way for repentant sinners to be forgiven and enjoy His love as they trust in Christ for forgiveness and direction. Live in Christ and rejoice over His sending!
Many do not know the “Relevance of Christmas.” “Relevant,” means having to do with the case at hand. The Apostle Paul writes about the case at hand, Jesus Christ, “…being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8)
Let the Holy Spirit place this deep within your heart, the Lord of the universe – He who existed in eternity and perfection, in glory and majesty, in dominion and power stepped down and came to walk this guilty sod, which is so full of sin, so He could take on the humiliation of sin. Christ coming is relevant for at three reasons.
One, the Lord, whom we are to serve for eternity came to serve us. As a matter of fact, one of His purposes in coming was to show all what God is like. He taught that Christians are to become His disciples and He said, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22:25-27) We can serve others because Jesus serves us.
Two, the Lord, whom we are to love, came and showed the ultimate love for us. Jesus said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:12-13) There is a truth proclaimed often this time of the year, “Christ was born to die” and He commands us to have the same measure of love for our brothers in Christ as He showed for us.
Three, the Lord, whom we are to seek with all our hearts so that He may be found, came to seek that which was lost. While in the home of the tax collector, Zacchaeus, the Lord said, “Today salvation has come to this house… For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:9-10) Grasp the relevance of Christ!
“Many people and church attendees today form their views of the true God much as the pagan mythologist did. Their view of God is the product of their own experiences or the experiences they have heard recounted by others and is not formed by seeing God’s inerrant revelation of Himself in the Scriptures.” (Jim Berg, Created for His Glory)
Jesus came for a specific reason, He said, “… Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9) William Barclay wrote in regards to the incarnation, “In Jesus we see the creating Word of God, …we see God living life as He would live it, thus, showing us how we should live on earth.” The Bible says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning… The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-2,14) This is the basic statement of the Incarnation, for Jesus entered into this earth through the gateway of childbirth and took up residence among men. His incarnation was the full manifestation of grace and truth because it was the greatest possible expression of God’s compassion for people and the most perfect way of conveying truth to their understanding. God’s personal revelation of Himself in Christ has no parallel elsewhere, nor has it ever been repeated.
By inviting the Holy Spirit to bring revelation and illumination to the human mind and spiritual heart, mankind may understand who Christ is. Through prayerful study of God’s Word about Jesus Christ you have the opportunity to learn what real love is, communicate with God in prayer, how to live a life in obedience to God’s commands and decrees. You may learn how to defeat the attacks of Satan, overcome the sinful flesh and escape the lures of this world’s view.
Because of everything Jesus did upon this earth and His going to the Father and the sending the Holy Spirit to us, we can behold the presence of Christ living in us through the Spirit of Christ. (Romans 8:9-11) There is no greater Christmas present than having, experiencing and enjoying the life changing presence of Jesus Christ in our lives. And that is a treasure worth pondering. Grasp the true Christmas, Christ!