I’m pretty skeptical to things I hear and learn, so I try to ask questions as much as I can and I try to listen to everyone’s answers and questions as well.
One thing I have found interesting to learn lately is the Bible. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not doubting whatsoever, but I like digging in. One question was answered awhile ago, which made me curious even more.
The Christmas seasons never rubbed in me since I was young. I had no ninang and ninongs to give me gifts. My family wasn’t into the whole let’s celebrate Christmas and be extravagant on this season, so Christmas was just a celebration for Jesus’ birth, vacation for me as a student, and great food on the table. It never really occurred to me how Jesus was born, why it had to be Mary and Joseph and not my Mom and my Dad, why the manger, and why the shepherds.
The church I grew up with never bothered to explain, as they insist that December 25 is not legit. If you aren’t going to celebrate it on December 25, when are you going to?
So today was a great day as the pastor explained it a little further in his message.
1. Why Bethlehem? It was the city of David. David was born there, was raised there and was crowned king in that same town. It was the ancestral place for both Joseph and Mary. The census was decreed that every man in the Roman empire must go back to their hometown and register. – Micah 5
2. Why did it have to be Mary and Joseph? God promised David an everlasting throne from David’s direct descendant. But at the same time, God had cursed one of the kingly descendant of David, which now contradicts to the promise. But behold, because God is sovereign and all-knowing, everything has been planned out millions of years before. The God of Already! As the book of Matthew explains the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph which is the kingly line, a straight descendant from Solomon, in which the curse has been said, the book of Luke explains the genealogy of Mary from the line of Nathan, the non-kingly genealogy. Now Nathan is the fourth son of King David through Bathsheba. He has not ascended to the throne and no curse was casted on his line. Remember that Mary is a virgin mother, which then gives us the conclusion that Jesus has no blood line from Joseph whatsoever. So Jesus is a direct descendant from David through Nathan which is the ancestral line of Mary. With this, the prophecy in 2 Samuel 7:16 has been fulfilled.
3. Why did the glory of heaven appeared to shepherds? Theologically and historically, the fathers of Israel such as Abraham, David and Moses were shepherds which God had made wonderful promises with them, and same goes with the shepherds who first heard the news. Another is because God is the Great Shepherd. He likes taking care of us and guiding us and would search for us thoroughly if we get lost. Another thing is that shepherds were an outcast to the society. They were probably the lowest of the low among people who make a living. Now God was probably making a statement – we are loved, we are bought in a price, and we should never look down on ourselves or to anyone. Jesus did not come to save the righteous, but He came for the sinners. – Luke 5:31-32
4. Why the manger? I have thought that if I will be born again by my Mom and if I will be given a chance where, I would probably choose the most expensive hospital on earth, and that comes from a commoner. But the King of all Kings chose the manger of all places! I actually have no idea whatsoever. It was never prophesied. But try to think about the manger – it’s cold, dirty, and dark. There’s probably not enough walls or blanket to cover a person. There’s not enough light or electricity to give visibility. And animals poo everywhere. It’s the same as the human heart – cold, dark and dirty. And when we accept Jesus, He always begins in our hearts. He is born in our hearts, in our cold, dirty and dark heart which then becomes clean, pure and warm with His love.
Somehow, these things changed my thoughts about Christmas. My family never celebrated Christmas the way the world does. They’ve always reasoned that it’s not the day the Lord was born, the same reason that Sunday is not the seventh day to take a rest and worship the Lord. But at the end of the day, when I read and close the Bible, nobody knows when the exact days are. The most important thing is, regardless of the days, our hearts are right and full of praises to the King.
If I wanted to celebrate the birth of Christ on the middle of June, it’s fine. As long as you are thankful and blessed that Jesus came to this earth to die and save you, it’s fine. If I go to church on any other day of the week and consider that one day my rest day where I stop working and just praise the Lord, then it can be the seventh day. It doesn’t really matter as God looks through our hearts and not on our calendars.
And when I think more about heaven and hell, I get excited all the more – to see Jesus face to face, to be painless for all eternity and to be in utter joy all the days of our lives. This is where choices begin to matter.
Say, we have four kinds of people. One is a non-believer who has never heard the Gospel and only heard it for the first time and received it. Two, a non-believer who has heard the Gospel for so many times but decided he can’t give up on worldly things yet, so that can wait. And three, a believer who has heard the Gospel, acknowledged it and gave up all the worldly things in life, and lastly a believer who has heard the Gospel, acknowledged it but still loves a part of the world.
Who are you among these people?
God does not want to control us unless we give Him the right to do so. He does not insist, but will do everything for His Word to reach the ends of the world. When we keep on denying the gift of salvation, we deny everything that comes with it – the wonderful wonderful promises, the heaven, the blessings, and most importantly, the Maker and Savior who has redeemed us from eternal suffering.
Everyone has probably heard of hell, of evil, of the lake of fire. These are not tales, these are facts. And God is giving us the chance, everyday, to make a decision, to turn away from this world and turn to Him and be with Him in paradise, as His first design and plan for us when He made the earth. When Jesus rose to life after his death, He showed us that he defeated the very thing that we are so afraid of; the very thing that would stop us from moving or doing anything more.
Death was the consequence to the choice of Eve and Adam. Jesus showed that there is a way out. That like Him, we will rise from death and be with Him in eternal bliss.
You see, heaven is not for people who are afraid of hell, but heaven is for people who loves God.
It’s just a matter of choice.