I love music and poetry! One reason is because I love to see how artists can paint a picture with their words. This new season often brings new songs to the radio, as well as familiar classics. One of my favorite songs during the holidays has to be “Mary Did You Know?” I have a recording of my three boys singing this song. It's always been one of their favorites too. Let me say that we need to be careful not to make Mary or Joseph out to be demigods, but as the pendulum swings we must not forget their part of the story. They were working according to God’s plan. One of the most amazing stories to me is in Luke 4:14-30 when Jesus preached in Nazareth. Jesus returns to his home town and preaches for the synagogue where He grew up. The reading that day just happened to be from Isaiah so He highlighted Isaiah 61:1-2 and Isaiah 58:6, then Jesus concluded His message by showing them He is the fulfillment of those words. The religious zealots refused to accept that Jesus was fulfilling those prophecies, but clearly simple investigation reveals the truth.
Long before Jesus is presented to Bible readers in Matthew 1... Jesus is there. His story is on every page of Scripture. Go back to Matthew 1:2-16 and you will see God is working His plan (Luke 3:23-38). He fulfills a legal title, He accomplishes hundreds of prophesies, how could we ignore it? The ENTIRE story of Jesus is amazing. Not just the birth story. In fact, let's look into the background of Mary... I have often pointed out the five women in Jesus' lineage: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba – all women with difficult backstories. Following these stories we see Mary, who had to live with an out-of-wedlock pregnancy. This would have been a shame to her family, but she was willing to bear the burden. Consider the kings in Jesus' lineage who also had a checkered past: Uzziah, Ahaz, Manasseh, Ammon, etc. There are broken branches all over this family tree including whores, harlots, and heroes. It is a hodge-podge of Gentiles & Jews blended into one amazing story. This was part of the providence of God!
Please take some time to look at the gospel of Matthew during the holidays. Linus famously points out the readings from Luke, but Matthew does a wonderful job sharing the prefigured ministry of Jesus described in Genesis 12:3 and Hosea 1:10-11. He shows how Jesus is a Son to a father who has no son. He is a prince to a man who was not a king. It’s all the work of God. Matthew’s gospel account begins with the story of the angel coming to say GOD IS WITH US and the book ends with Jesus saying I WILL BE WITH YOU ALWAYS! It begins and ends with the same theme: God is with us! Precious souls need to hear this story! This season some may be hearing it for the 1st time. Isn’t that wonderful!?! I find it sad that many people only remember the beginning of the story, but like one chapter of the book, there is so much more to consider.
There are a lot of things we struggle with at this time of the year. No doubt Christmas may be over commercialized. Christmas may have a heightened secular appeal and may be corrupted by false concepts. Christmas may be in the wrong season (as I noted last week I personally believe the date of December 25th may be off by several weeks). Christmas may sad and depressing to some who reject the message and ideals of Christianity. However, there is a fantastic old song that says, “Little is Much, When God Is In It.” Far be it from me to hinder or discourage others who see Christ in Christmas. Paul wisely said, "One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it" (Romans 14:5-6). What I do know is that there are many who get a glimpse of God during this time of year! My goal as a Christian is to encourage people to keep reading... because there is much more to the story.
May God bless you and merry Christmas! Have a great week!
You are loved.
Dr. Ray Reynolds
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