Peace and Joy of Christmas
Listen to The Message of Love
Joy To The World
Christmas is the birthday of Jesus Christ, an event that took place over 2000 years ago. Christmas is important because of the impact that Christ has on our lives and on history. According to the Bible, his teachings and exemplary life gave us hope and a path for salvation and everlasting life. It also gave us a basic guide for meaningful living.
Christmas is seen by Christians and non-Christians as a time of joy, peace and good will. It is also a time of excitement for many children who eagerly wait for Santa Claus to come down the chimneys with Christmas gifts. Sometimes the excitement and festivities of Christmas seem to overshadow the significance. To assure that the significance of Christmas remains in focus, it is a good idea to take a moment to reflect on why many people see Jesus Christ as the guiding light for our lives. One can start this reflection by taking a moment to examine his life and teachings. Christmas seems to be the appropriate time for this reflection.
Jesus of Nazareth
According to the Gospels of Mathew and Luke, Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem but he was raised in Nazareth. The Bible teaches that Jesus is a part of the Trinity. Trinity is a unity of three persons or entities to form one entity. In Biblical teaching, God comprises of three entities, God the father, the son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit. In essence God presented himself to people in human form through his son Jesus Christ. Consequently, Jesus was a human being with God's powers.
Jesus Christ's mother was Mary and his father was Joseph, a Nazarene carpenter. Jesus, however, was conceived by the virgin Mary by immaculate conception. It is called immaculate conception because Mary's pregnancy occurred by a divine intervention of the holy spirit.
Born in a Manger
Jesus was born in a manger in the little town of Bethlehem. Joseph and Mary had to go to Bethlehem for the census which was ordered by Caesar Augustus. According to the censor's decree, every body (under the Roman Jurisdiction) had to go to their town or city of origin for the census. Being from the lineage of David, Joseph had to go to Bethlehem (the City of David) for the census. Mary was in the late stages of her pregnancy during this journey to Bethlehem.
When Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem, there was no place for them to stay because there were no rooms in the inns. They ended up staying in a manger. A manger is a stable where animals were kept. It was in this humble place that Jesus was born. Jesus, the King of all Kings was born in the manger.
In those days such a humble origin was unfitting for a nobility, and it was unimaginable for a king. Kings were very powerful and they were highly respected. Caesars and kings were not seen as mere mortals. They were essentially held in comparable ranking as the gods. This is why the birth of Christ in a manger was unexpected and remarkable.
Profile of His Message and Ministry
Jesus came to earth with the primary mission of saving Man from sin and showing Him the path for salvation and eternal life. He used parables extensively to assure that his teachings were easily understood and internalized. Two examples of his parables are shown below.
l The parable of the wise and foolish builders (Mathew 7: 24-28). In this parable the ability of two houses to withstand adverse weather conditions are contrasted. The wise man's house had a foundation of stone; whereas, the foolish man's house was built on a foundation of sand. The house with the strong foundation withstood the wind, rain, flood and storm, but the house with a foundation of sand was washed away. The parable was told to underscore the importance of building our lives on a sound foundation, a foundation based on Christ's teachings.
l Parable of the good Samaritan Luke 10: 30-36). The parable is about a man who was robbed and severely beaten by robbers as he was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. As he lay dying on the road, people, including a priest and a levite (an assistant to the priest in the temple), walked by without helping. A Samaritan (“The Good Samaritan”) saw him and helped him. He bounded his wounds and took him to an inn to recover from the injuries. The parable underscores the importance of caring for our fellow human beings who are in need. The caring should not be influenced by differences in religion, nationality, ethnicity or any other factors that prevent people from having compassion for each other.
Jesus also performed many miracles. His Godly powers can be seen from his miracles which ranged from calming the turbulent seas to restoring the sight to the blind. One of his well-known miracles is “Raising of Lazarus From Death” ( John 11: 1-45).
Martha, the sister of Lazarus, sent a message to Jesus that Lazarus was ill. By the time Jesus arrived at Bethany, the home town of Lazarus, Lazarus was already dead and had been entombed for four days. Along with Martha and other mourners, Jesus went to Lazarus's tomb and prayed to God to resurrect him form the tomb. The resurrection of Lazarus demonstrated the Godly powers of Jesus Christ. It also demonstrated his compassion for people.
Jesus was an effective teacher who spoke in parables. His teachings have an embedded message that caring for one another is important for our salvation. He taught us how to live in peace, and why we should not neglect the poor, the weak, the downtrodden and the defenseless. By words and actions he delivered his message over 2000 years ago. His message remains pertinent today.
What did Jesus Say About Love?
Jesus stressed the importance of love. His teaching strongly supports the conclusion that hate must be banished from our hearts. He taught us that God loves us and we must love God and love each other. Some statements that he made about love are shown below.
l The greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart and soul (Mark 12: 28-30) .
l The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself (Mathew 22: 37-40). In this case, your neighbor refers to every human being.
l As I have loved you so must you love each others (John 15: 9-17)
l Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Mathew 5: 43-48).
Meekness and Humility
Jesus was meek and humble. He was not known for being arrogant, self-asserting or intimidating. These qualities of meekness and humility made him approachable , beloved and respected. More importantly, these qualities made it easier for people to accept and internalize his message. Consequently, his message produced lasting changes in people's lives. This type of change contrasts sharply with the result that one would expect from a message by an arrogant and self-assertive authoritarian.
The importance of meekness and humility in our lives is presented in many parts of the Bible, as shown in the few examples below:
l The meek shall inherit the earth (Mathew 5: 5 ).
l If any one slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other cheek (Mathew 5: 39).
l If some one forces you to go one mile, go two (Mathew 5: 41).
Meekness and humility are often misconstrued as weakness, while arrogance, recklessness and self-assertiveness, the opposite of meekness and humility, are viewed as strength. The truth of the matter is that it takes a lot of strength to be meek and humble. On the other hand, arrogance, selfishness and fear-mongering are attributes of the weak.
Jesus is also well-known for his teachings about mercy and forgiveness. For example he taught the people that there should be no limit to the number of times you can forgive a person. When Peter, one his disciples, asked him how many times must he forgive a person who sins against him, Christ replied “seventy time seven” (Mathew 18: 21-22) . During his crucifixion Jesus also demonstrated that no sin is too great or to egregious to be forgiven. His first words on the cross during his prolonged agony was in a prayer to God where he said “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23: 34).
Joy to the World and Merry Christmas
If one internalizes the teaching of Jesus Christ, then the person has hopes for everlasting life, a life that is filled with peace and joy. Christmas is a day that brings special joy to those who have learned to walk in Christ's foot steps. Christmas is not simply a time for exchanging gifts and festivities, it is a reminder of the savior's birth. It is time to remember the importance of love, meekness and forgiveness. It is a time to sing “Old Little Town of Bethlehem” and visualize the manger. It is a time to sing “Joy to the World”, and sing it with a louder and a more joyful voice. It is also the time to say merry Christmas.